What if I am homeless or live in a shelter?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

You do not need a permanent address, cooking facilities or a regular place to live to get SNAP. 106 C.M.R.§362.100. You can get benefits if you live on the street, are staying at a homeless shelter or a shelter for victims of domestic violence. 106 C.M.R.§361.240(B). You can also get SNAP even if you get free meals at the shelter or soup kitchen/meals program.

If you do not have an address where you can regularly pick up mail, you can have mail from DTA sent to a local organization such as a shelter that accepts mail for clients, or to a U.S. Post Office Box. If needed, you can also pick up your DTA mail at your local DTA local office if you sign a DTA “Using TAO for Mailing Address” form.

When you apply, DTA will ask for proof of your identity. 106 C.M.R.§361.610(G). If you do not have any ID, there are many ways you can prove who you are. This includes a written statement from a staff person at a soup kitchen, detox program or shelter. 106 C.M.R.§361.640(B). DTA will also ask for and verify your SSN. Once verified, your SSN serves as proof of identity

If you are placed in Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter or are transferred while in EA, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) should update your address with DTA directly. However, you should still confirm DTA has your correct address See If I move, how do I report my new address?

You may also qualify for emergency or expedited SNAP. See When am I eligible for expedited (emergency) benefits? And the $152 homeless deduction should be used to calculate your countable income. See What is the homeless deduction?

Homeless ABAWDs

If you are between age 18 and 49 without children and lack a stable nighttime residence, you may be exempt from the ABAWD (able-bodied without dependents) three-month time limit. You can call the DTA Assistance Line to claim an exemption or complete a special DTA ABAWD Homeless Exemption Form. See Who is exempt from the 3-month ABAWD time limit?

DTA Online Guide Sections:

Show DTA Policy Guidance

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Help us improve MassLegalHelp!

Take a short survey to tell us what works and what is missing.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
Monday-Friday
between
9am and 4pm