HOUSTON – After thousands of people stood in line over two weeks in hopes of qualifying for food assistance after Harvey, community leaders are pushing to extend the deadline.
Friday marks the last day those affected by Hurricane Harvey can apply for a Lone Star card through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The program, which is based on income and expenses from Harvey, helps families most in need for up to two months.
Enrollment in Harris County began on Sept. 22. Thousands of people lined up outside Greenspoint Mall hoping to qualify for benefits.
Two weeks later, at least 1,000 applicants camped outside the George R. Brown Convention Center for what would be the last day to apply for D-SNAP.
The Metropolitan Organization clergy members and leaders announced Friday that they would meet at Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church to call on Congress and Gov. Greg Abbott to extend the application deadline one more week.
The group said they are requesting the extension because “pastors and families are desperate for food resources and many have not been able to access D-SNAP benefits due to long lines.”
At all of the locations, many applicants have camped overnight and thousands have waiting in hours-long lines to ensure a chance to apply for benefits. TMO said many working families in need are not able to spend six to eight hours waiting for assistance.
“While being in contact with community members in regards to the aftermath of Harvey, a member brought to my attention this pending issue. She said that the line for D-SNAP took six to eight hours,” Fr. Simón Bautista said. “For two days in a row she got in line at 6 a.m. and by the time she was seen, around 7 p.m., she was told that her last name was not being seen that day. She returned at 3 a.m. to find that 10 to 15 individuals were already in line. These individuals and families have been waiting in the heat, missing work and some still haven’t received the benefits.”
The group said it is grateful for the help and to leaders for opening GRB, but said that too many families who are in desperate need of help won’t get it if an extension is not granted.
TMO will meet at 1 p.m. to call on the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Ted Cruz, state legislatures, Harvey Recovery Czar John Sharp, and Gov. Greg Abbott for a D-SNAP extension.
GRB is the last location in Harris County to apply for D-SNAP benefits. The convention center is open Friday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Because of long lines, a street fest at 10 a.m. and an Astros game at 1 p.m., people are encouraged to take the park and ride or the shuttles to get around.
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. You must have a government issued ID. 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.