Skip to comments.Long Lines At State Offices For Low-Income Aid; Confusion About Food Stamps (Connecticut)
Posted on 09/26/2011 12:08:20 PM PDT by RightGeek
Long lines formed early Monday morning outside state Department of Social Services field offices, as low-income residents sought one-time payments for losses incurred during Tropical Storm Irene.
By mid-morning Monday, more than 400 people stood in line outside the DSS office on North Main Street, next to the Connecticut Works center. The office is one of 12 statewide where state officials are distributing ATM-style cards allowing people to make approved purchases.
But many of those standing in the long, snaking line early Monday said it wasn't clear who was eligible for the one-time payments or who needed to stand in line. Information was not readily available to applicants until they reached the front of the line, a two to four hour wait.
The program is not available for recipients of food stamps, which is the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Eligible food stamp clients are already receiving disaster aid under another program and do not need to apply in person.
Despite that, many of the people waiting in line Monday, including Taushanin Valle, were regular food stamp recipients. Valle, a waitress who recently moved to Manchester, said she was away from her Hartford apartment during the tropical storm, and had left her windows open. Carpets and clothing was damaged and the food in her refrigerator spoiled after her building lost power.
At 10 a.m. Valle said she had been on line for about two hours. Valle said she had heard that the program is not for food stamp clients, but she said a friend on food stamps had received $375. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "We'll see .I'm still going to give it a try."
Shantae Ortiz, 32, a food stamp recipient, got to the front of the line only to be told that she did not need to have stood in line. "It's only for people who don't receive food stamps," Ortiz, a single mother, began telling others.
"This is for the people who don't receive food stamps. If you already get them, you will see the relief on your benefits card," Ortiz said.
About noon, a woman with End Hunger CT! began distributing fliers explaining the program's rules and requirements to those standing in line. When it became clear that there weren't enough fliers to go around, the woman told people to "share this information."
A spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Social Services said this is the first time the state has offered disaster SNAP benefits and DSS wasn't sure what the response would be.
"I don't think we've ever seen anything like this at our offices," David Dearborn, the agency's spokesman said.
"We've had to send reinforcements to our regional offices to help with the number of applications," Dearborn said.
"We have people who used to be eligibility specialists, trainers, hearing officers, staff who work in other parts of the agency have been dispatched to regional offices to try to keep up with the applications," he said.
He said the number of applicants has built up over the past few days. Last Wednesday the first day, the agency had 451 applicants statewide.
Thursday the number of applicants rose to 1,292 applicants and by Friday, the tally was 1,949.
They've had 3,701 applicants statewide, but the number doesn't include today's applicants nor does it include "rain checks," given to people who didn't get to apply by the end of the day.
The offices are accepting applications from 8:30 until 3:30 pm., but Dearborn says lines have started well before 8:30 a.m.
He said lines have formed at most, if not all of the agency's 12 offices, with major cities like New Haven, Bridgeport, Manchester, Waterbury and Hartford reporting the longest lines.
People already enrolled in SNAP are not eligible because there is already a process in place to help them. This is for people who are not enrolled in SNAP who incurred losses related to Tropical Storm Irene.
But information and apparently misinformation about the federal government storm relief program spread rapidly through word-of-mouth and on Facebook over the weekend.
"Somebody went and got some money and posted it on Facebook," Jones said "And you know how many people are on Facebook."
Jessica Dejesus, of Manchester, said she had received the one-time disaster aid on her most recent her food stamp allotment.
"On my card they just added an extra $50 for storm relief," said Dejesus said, who said she was waiting for a friend.
Millie Jones, of Bloomfield, hoped to receive a storm relief payment for the two weeks' worth of groceries that spoiled when the electricity went out in her home. Jones is not currently receiving food stamps, so she needed to stand in line to be eligible for compensation.
"I lost power for three days. I just need enough to cover what I lost about $200. I don't have any receipts. Who keeps receipts?" said Jones, 49, a certified nursing assistant.
The assistance, under a federal program called Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), offers aid ranging from $200 for a single adult to $952 for a family of six, the department said. Tuesday is the last day for people to apply.
Although the program is financed through the federal food assistance agency, eligible expenses can include loss of income, medical costs, child care or repair or replacement of property as long as no insurance or other disaster relief also covered the same losses.
To be eligible for the one-time D-SNAP aid, applicants must have a combination of take-home income and bank accounts for the period from Aug. 27 to Sept. 25 that does not exceed $2,186 for a single person; $2,847 for a household of two; $3,272 for a household of three; and $3,859 for a household of four. The income counted includes public assistance.
More information is available at http://www.ct.gov/dss or by calling 2-1-1.
Where’s my Obama money at?
Seems like just a bit of a disconnect between this and Zero being out in Silicon Valley, San Diego and La La land raising campaign money today.
This is disgusting.
Like flies on $h!t.
Anyone who believes paying taxes is a moral, ethical, or righteous citizen’s duty is a fool.
Round up the usual demographic...
Sad part is....even if they were waiting for their monthly chicken and 5 pounds of flour, they would still sing Obamas name in praise for the blessing and blame everybody else for their woes.
Come on, the lady needs the money. She left her window open and the floor got wet. Where's your compassion?
Come to Memphis. Even the municipal court judges earning 200K a year use the EBT card to buy their food.
Sorry about the formatting!
Today’s soup lines: 45 million on food stamps. How wonderful.
I am heartless.
Gee a simple line on the sidewalk? back then did’t need any cattle fences to keep neat lines; what happened?
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