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What if I am homeless or live in a shelter?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

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.

When you apply, DTA will ask for proof of your identity. 106 C.M.R.§ 361.610(G). DTA will also ask for and verify your SSN. See What proofs do I need to claim living expenses?. 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).

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,

You may also qualify for emergency or expedited SNAP, Can I get emergency SNAP?. And the $143 homeless deduction should be used to calculate your countable income. See What is the homeless deduction?.

ABAWD: 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 SNAP time limit.

You can call the DTA Assistance Line to claim an exemption or complete a special ABAWD Homeless Exemption Form, Appendix C. See Who is exempt from the 3-month ABAWD time limit? for all the ABAWD exemptions

DTA Policy Guidance:

DTA Online Guide:  SNAP > Work Requirements > ABAWD Work Program Requirement > ABAWD Work Program Exemptions

Additional Guidance:
  • DTA worker must ask homeless client if they can provide the, address of friend, relative, authorized representative or shelter as mailing address. The local DTA office (TAO) can be used as “last resort.” A DTA form, “Using TAO for Mailing Address” must be signed by client. OLG Transmittal 2015-35 (Aug. 7, 2015)

  • When family is placed in EA shelter, DHCD is required to send updated information (including address) to DTA. Online Guide Transmittal 2015-1 (Jan 23, 2015)

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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