Abbeville’s Department of Social Service Office (the food stamp office) will be closing its doors but that does not mean Vermilion Parish residents will not be able to apply for help locally.
On May 1, doors will be locked on the large brick building located at 1820-A Veterans Memorial Drive. The workers will be moved to the Crowley office.
Representatives from the state’s Department of Social Services Office (DSS) were in Abbeville this week to make the announcement. They met with parish officials to explain their actions.
Suzy Sonnier of DSS emphasized while the office building in Abbeville is closing, people in the parish will not have to travel to Crowley to apply for help.
“There will be no elimination of service,” Sonnier said. “We will continue to have an existence in Abbeville and Vermilion Parish.”
After May 1, citizens who need to apply for help with Family Support will have to do so at the Community Service Office (2729 Veterans Memorial Drive, Abbeville).
In the past, those who needed assistance would set up an appointment and have to go meet with a state worker in Abbeville. After May 1, applications will be mailed in and a person needing assistance will be able to get the help needed over the phone.
“They should not need to go to our office anymore,” Sonnier added. “They can mail in their form and do everything by phone.”
DSS is not picking on Abbeville by closing its doors, said Trey Williams of DSS. Consolidating offices around the state is a trend because it is a way to save the state money.
DSS is paying $153,000 a month to rent the building in Abbeville. Each year the State dished out $1.8 million a year to honor its lease, which will end May 1.
Today, DSS has 165 offices in 64 parishes. They plan to cut that number down in the near future.
“Our focus is consolidating offices where we already have a DSS office,” said Sonnier. “It maintains a presence. but we are moving and consolidating staff, so we can reduce administrative operations and overhead. By doing that, we will create efficiency. That is what will enable us to keep the services going at the level that is needed by the client.”
Because of an increase in unemployment throughout the state, DSS has seen an increase in the number of people requesting services. From 2007 to 2010, food stamp cases have increased 35 percent.
Sonnier said the way DSS is set up today, it cannot continue to serve the clients with the increase and the current budget pressures without making adjustments.
Sonnier emphasized that the public should not panic by the closing of the Abbeville office.
“Services will continue like we have been providing before,” she said.
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