Few of us will forget the sight of the darkened Prudential Tower and surrounding buildings on the evening of March 13, especially those who live in the immediate area and were forced to evacuate their homes. A fire at an NSTAR substation in Boston’s Copley Square resulted in widespread power outages that affected more than 20,000 people – some for as long as six days.
Many of the residents cast into the dark that night are elderly and disabled individuals who live in senior, public, and privately-managed low-income housing. The City of Boston and the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) acted quickly on behalf of these individuals to ensure they would not go hungry. Households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can request replacement benefits if food is lost due to a disaster or household misfortune such as fire, flood, loss of electricity, equipment (refrigerator/freezer) failure or other disaster.
Additionally, DTA asked for, and recently received, a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give residents an additional ten days to request replacement SNAP benefits. Requests can be made until close of business on Thursday, April 5. Getting this extension is especially critical because many evacuated residents were unable to contact a DTA office until recently, and others were unaware they could request additional help.
Since the blackout, the Department has received and processed hundreds of requests for replacement SNAP benefits, primarily through the DTA office on Massachusetts Avenue in Newmarket Square.
As always, I am proud of my team for their work assisting people during challenging times. I am also very pleased with our collaboration with the City of Boston, and I appreciate the Mayor’s concern for affected Boston residents and willingness to partner with the Department to administer replacement SNAP benefits. Working together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of people in need. If you know someone who receives SNAP benefits and lost food during the power outage, please encourage him or her to call us at 1-800-445-6604 by close of business on April 5.
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