What if I am homeless or live in a shelter?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

You do not need a permanent address, cooking facilities or a regular place to live to get SNAP. 106 C.M.R.§362.100.

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 you have a smartphone or access to a computer, you can also use DTA Connect to see all the notices and forms DTA sends you. See How do I get information about my SNAP case online or with my smartphone?

Proof of identity and residence 

When you apply, DTA will ask for proof of your identity. 106 C.M.R.§361.610(G) DTA will also ask for your SSN (you can give it verbally if you know it).

Once DTA verifies your SSN through a data match, your SSN serves as proof of identity. And there are other ways you can prove who you are, including a written statement from a staff person at a food pantry, detox program or shelter. 106 C.M.R.§361.640(B)

DTA must accept reasonable proof that you are a Massachusetts resident. If you do not have proof because you are homeless, DTA should accept a self-declaration that you are a resident. If you are denied SNAP because DTA says you did not prove you are a Massachusetts resident, contact MLRI at [email protected].

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 limi t– once those time limit rules go back into effect. Note: The 3-month ABAWD time limit is currently suspended. See Who is exempt from the 3-month ABAWD time limit?

DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for links to the DTA's BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.

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