Below is an email communication from Commissioner Kehoe sent earlier today announcing the closing of two local DTA offices - North Adams and Milford. If your organization works with low income clients living in the Central and Western Mass communities served by these two DTA offices, it is important to discuss with DTA ways to ensure clients continue to have access to DTA staff and services. The Commissioner's email indicates that DTA is going to explore satellite offices in these two areas. If your organization can help DTA with that goal (for example, identifying office space), please let them know!
These office closures will be discussed in the upcoming Boston FS Coalition meeting and possibly the Worcester and Western Mass meetings as well. We will keep Coalition members posted of any changes or updates.
Earlier this week, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) announced our plan to close our local offices in North Adams and Milford.
One in nine residents of the Commonwealth receives assistance from DTA, with more than 726,000 individuals currently enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). The total number of households enrolled in SNAP has increased by 295% since the beginning of FY02 while total Department staffing levels decreased 32% in that same time period. Within the last year alone, the SNAP caseload has increased by more than 108,000 individuals (more than 65,000 households), or 19%, and is projected to continue to grow.
The Department’s administrative funding is used for staff salaries, office leases, equipment, and other expenses necessary to fulfilling our mission to assist low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, increase their incomes, and improve their quality of life. In order to achieve administrative efficiencies, and to live within our funding for Fiscal Year 2011, we need to make difficult choices. As a result, we will not be renewing our leases for local office space in North Adams and Milford. We anticipate the North Adams office will close on November 29, 2010, and the Milford office will close on April 29, 2011.
Merging these locations with larger nearby offices will maximize Department resources, maintain critical staffing levels, and allow us to effectively operate our programs. North Adams staff and client cases will be transferred to the Pittsfield office; Milford staff and client cases will be transferred to offices in the neighboring areas of Framingham, Worcester, Southbridge and Taunton.
Although clients will need to travel further to get to a DTA office, the Department is looking to establish processes that allow us to effectively and efficiently meet client needs without requiring the clients to appear in person (phone, mail, fax, and internet). We are committed to exploring the possibility of implementing satellite offices in North Adams and Milford to maintain a DTA presence.
Thank you for your understanding and for your efforts to assist the low-income individuals and families of the Commonwealth.
Julia E. Kehoe