Long lines continue for D-SNAP benefits at Greenspoint Mall

HOUSTON – Thousands of people lined up Tuesday to apply for Harvey food relief, a day after someone called police to control the crowd.

The offices were expected to close on Thursday, but with the high demand, state leaders are looking into whether they'll keep them open longer.

“It’s a good thing what they’re doing, but it’s heartbreaking to see so many people in need,” Shelia King said.

People piled into Greenspoint Mall to sign up for disaster flood relief. It’s one of three locations in Harris County to apply for the state’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP.

“I did suffer some loss, and I missed a week of work that I would never be able to recoup,” King said.

Some waited for hours overnight.

Officials with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said once families qualify, they’ll get a Lone Star Card to use at stores that accept it. They've taken 80,000 applications since they started doling out benefits on Sept. 22.

How much you qualify for depends on things like income and expenses after Hurricane Harvey.

Families most in need could receive benefits for up to two months.

“I (can) give (it) to my wife, and she can take care of the food for two months. That’s very, very good,” Hasan Farraj said.

Tuesday was the first day after police showed up to the mall.

A spokesperson said there were several ‘unruly crowd members’ on Monday. An officer on the scene said police believed people were becoming restless, so officers dispersed the line.

Still, people said this is a blessing.

“I believe that God did this for us because we all have suffered in some form or fashion, or seen people suffer,” King said.

The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

While previous enrollment opportunities had been based on the applicant's last name, Tuesday was the second day anyone could apply, no matter where their last name fell in the alphabet. 

Harris County, Texas Health and Human Services officials, staff and volunteers are working at these sites as they take applications and interview applicants. D-SNAP benefit cards are provided to those who qualify.

D-SNAP offers short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from a disaster. D-SNAP is designed to help when people return to their homes and have access to electricity and grocery stores. Benefits are loaded on a Lone Star Card within three days of applying, and the amount is equal to two months of the maximum amount of SNAP benefits, based on household size.

Recipients have up to 12 months to use the benefit once they're approved.

There is a limited period of time to apply for D-SNAP, based on your county of residence.

For D-SNAP details, go to www.hhs.texas.gov/d-snap or dial 211.

To be eligible, you must:

Be from a county that has been declared a federal disaster area.
Have experienced a loss of income, destruction of your home or a disaster-related expense, such as temporary shelter or home repairs.
Not have been getting regular SNAP benefits at the time of the disaster.
Meet certain income limits. 

Applying for D-SNAP

You must apply in person at a designated D-SNAP location in your county of residence. You will not be able to apply online. D-SNAP applications will be accepted for a limited amount of time in each county. See below for designated D-SNAP locations.

Important: HHS is encouraging only the applicant to visit the application sites. Additional family members are creating longer lines and more challenges. Due to limited space, HHS is not allowing individuals who are not applying into the interviewing area; they are being asked to wait in designated areas.

Residents in Harris County may only apply until Oct. 5. Locations will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Date     Last name
Sept. 27            A - C
Sept. 28            D - H
Sept. 29            I - M
Sept. 30            N - R
Oct. 1   S - Z
Oct. 2-5            Anyone

Harris County - Houston
Greenspoint Mall
12300 North Fwy
Houston, Texas 77060

Harris County - Houston 
Southwest Multi-Service Center
6400 High Star
Houston, Texas 77074

Harris County - Pasadena
Pasadena Convention Center
7902 Fairmont
Pasadena, Texas 77505

Enter through the fairgrounds entrance at 7601 Red Bluff and follow the directions to the convention center.

"We need them to come on the day they are assigned. That really helps us with the crowd," said Wayne Salter, an associate commissioner with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. "Bring your IDs and fill out your form before you head inside the door."

Salter said the commission hopes to open two more centers as crowds are expected to grow.

Download the Click2Houston news app in your app store to stay up-to-date with the latest news while you're on the go.

Sign up for KPRC 2 newsletters to get breaking news, sports, entertainment, contests and more delivered straight to your email inbox.

About the Authors:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.

Reporter, family-oriented, sports fanatic, proud Houstonian.