Long lines for D-SNAP benefits continue

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter , Sofia Ojeda - Anchor/Reporter , Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor

HOUSTON - Day two of D-SNAP extensions was just as busy as the first as thousands packed Alexander Deussen Park.
 
Some people thought there needs to be a better process.
 
"What needs to be done, they need more locations, they need more officers and they need more people so they get done more quickly. Yesterday was hell, it was just hell," Victor McCall said.
 
People said this will help them pick up the pieces after Hurricane Harvey.
 
"It's going to help with what's most important, is getting our house back to normal. There hasn't been any normalcy in our house whatsoever," Ellie Dabila said.
 
A family of four that qualifies can get up to $1,300 in aid. Officials are also doing whatever they can to prevent any fraud.
 
"If our staff is seeing someone that comes through the line and their story is not adding up they ask them to step out and talk to one of the investigators on the spot right there," Charles Smith, Executive Commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services, said.

Friday is the last day for D-SNAP applications. They will begin at 8 a.m.

No other locations or extensions are planned at this point.

D-SNAP extensions

Texas Health and Human Services has decided to extend the D-SNAP program for Hurricane Harvey victims for three days in Harris County.

The extension will begin Wednesday at Duessen Park's Senior Center and the Open Air Pavilion.

State officials said in the 15 days they offered D-SNAP in Harris County, they served a total of 260,000 individuals, which they say amounts to 634,400 people.

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

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services had already served more than 37,000 people. Many had complained of wait times of one to three hours in traffic. Bumper-to-bumper traffic surrounded every entrance and roads around the park. Many people waited for hours just to get into the park, only to wait more in line.

“She waited three hours. I waited an hour and a half in traffic,” said Diana Brown.

"It was long and horrible. It was about 1 and a half hours," said Dominic Jones. He walked more than a mile to get in line. He then waited in line.

Officials said 15 deputies were helping out at the main site at the Open Air Pavilion. DPS troopers helped direct traffic.

Others abandoned their cars on the side of the road, opting to walk for miles to get in line.

“You’re better off walking. The line of cars isn’t moving,” Brown said.

"I left at 9:45 this morning," said Derren Jack, who didn’t get help until around 1:30 p.m.

Officials pointed fingers when determining who was responsible for the lack of foresight.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, who pushed to extend the registration, said it was up to the county judge to submit a place for the state to approve.

"The only (entity) that can submit sites is the county. This site was submitted by the county, up to the state and then up to the USDA, and having only one site. This is all they could do is accept this site. We've been asking for more sites, we wanted to have a site on the west side. That's what the county had wanted, but every site was not viable," Jackson-Lee said.

WATCH: People line up for hours for D-SNAP help

The park is in the precinct of County Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ office. County Judge Ed Emmett said it had received the recommendation from Ellis’ office. Ellis’ office issued this comment:

“The county judge is the official that decides where a D-SNAP location will be opened. When Judge Emmett offered me the opportunity to provide assistance to people in need at our community center, I absolutely agreed. Since the storm, I have offered up Precinct One’s assets to help in any way possible, and I’ve requested multiple more D-SNAP enrollment locations. As the lines show, people are still hurting and in need of help. I hope Judge Emmett offers us the opportunity to open more locations to help those in need.”

Emmett’s office also said the state ultimately gave the OK. But Wayne Salter, with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, said they look to local officials to choose the location. The officials grant the state permission to operate on the site they recommend.

Emmett’s office held a news conference explaining what happened.

"So working with commissioner Ellis, I wanted one somewhere on the I-10 East corridor because the northeast part of town really hadn't been served," Emmett said. "But there wasn't anywhere available because there had to be a lot of parking, it has to have access and so Duessen Park came up. The state came down, looked at Duessen Park, said, 'Yes, that fits, we're going to do that.' I didn't even go out. It was submitted and the state opened it today."

"There is a need for more sites; it's taking people three hours to get here. We established a METRO program, which is working excellently, but the buses have to get on the ground as well," Jackson-Lee said.

Monday also kicks off enrollment for flood victims in Montgomery County. They can apply at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Airport Road.

Click or tap here to find out what you need to apply for the program.

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