Congresswoman Jackson Lee: “Witnessing firsthand the thousands of disaster-impacted residents being served at Deussen Park on the first day reinforced my reasoning for seeking and securing a three day extension to D-SNAP. Thanks to the cooperation between the Federal Government and State, in spite of the obstacles with site selection. And I thank METRO for providing shuttles to transport storm-impacted Houstonians to and from the Deussen Park Site. Together, they made it work and as a result, thousands were served on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.”
“Congresswoman Jackson Lee will be at Deussen Park at 3pm Friday, 10/20/2017, to thank people for all the work they have done.”
Houston, TX – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Senior Member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security, issued the following statement about the enormous need and response to the Disaster Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or D-SNAP:
“I am saddened that an elderly gentlemen who traveled to Alexander Deussen Park seeking the aid that he deserved lost his life. My deepest sympathies and prayers go out to his family.
“At the start of the three day extension for D-SNAP in Harris County, I witnessed firsthand the plight of Hurricane Harvey survivors who were forced to endure extreme hardships to secure the benefits they so desperately need. These were men and women, including seniors and the disabled, who are hurting and struggling to get back on their feet.
“Many of them suffer from one or more of the following hardships:
· Lost or no access to income;
· Home or business repairs;
· Temporary shelter or evacuation expenses;
· Home or business protection expenses;
· Cost to replace personal or household items;
· Clean-up expenses;
· And personal injury, including funeral expenses.
“With these added expenses, food support is very important. That is why they came to the emergency D-SNAP processing site at Alexander Deussen Park, to submit applications for food assistance.
“The site, which is located 22 miles northeast of downtown, has only one lane leading in and one lane leading out. As a result, far too many storm-weary survivors were forced to wait in a long line of traffic for up to three hours. This inconvenience could have been avoided had the County Judge abided by repeated requests to designate additional processing sites.
“Under law, site selection was solely in the hands of the county judge, and he made the decision on his own. Additional sites submitted for consideration by the City and the Commissioner of Harris County Precinct 1 appear to have been ignored.
“Fortunately, however, many residents braved the crowds and made it in to Deussen Park. Then, under the threat of criminal penalty for the penalty of law for providing misleading information, they filled out the appropriate paperwork and received the help they needed. Those individuals who were not eligible did not receive the benefits. In all, the state processed thousands of people on Wednesday.
“The D-SNAP benefit pays for up to two months of groceries and to prevent fraud, can only be secured in person. Specifically, the State checks the zip codes which are tied to storm-impacted areas. Additional sites might have made this process easier but the Federal and State Governments are doing their job. I applaud them.
“When the D-SNAP program ended earlier this month, I immediately sent a letter urging the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to work with me to give struggling Hurricane Harvey survivors more time to obtain this vital nutritional support. Fortunately, the USDA was very accommodating and agreed to resume operations of the program for an additional three days.
“The lives of the people standing in line should not be disrespected or taken for granted. D-SNAP should not be incorrectly characterized as a “giveaway program,” but rather for what it is; a disaster food program implemented in response to the extreme and catastrophic devastation caused by a thousand year storm.
“The federal government still believes the disaster in impacted areas is so grave that it is extending the time period for FEMA disaster registration to November 24, 2017. Federal and state officials understand the extent to which people continue to suffer. It is unfortunate that this understanding has not prevailed within all levels of government.
“Despite the difficulties, Alexander Deussen Park will continue to process applications for people who require food assistance until Friday, October 20, 2017.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.