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What is the homeless deduction?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2023 guide from

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

If you stay in a homeless shelter, temporarily in the home of another (“couch surfing”), or live on the street, your SNAP benefits should be calculated with the standard homeless deduction (currently $152 per month).

This standard deduction recognizes the basic living of doing laundry, phone calls, locker fees, and other items. 106 C.M.R. §364.400(F). You do not need to verify these expenses. If you get the homeless deduction, you do not get any other shelter deductions off your income.

It is important that the DTA worker code your SNAP case as “homeless” so you get this deduction. DTA considers you “homeless” if you lack a regular nighttime residence, including if you are staying in a shelter or have other accommodations that are temporary (e.g. less than 90 days). See 106 C.M.R. §360.030 for the definition of homeless.


Paul is a homeless veteran who receives $500 per month in Veterans’ benefits. Sometimes he stays at Pine Street Inn, a shelter for adult individuals, and sometimes he sleeps on the street. Paul gets the $167 standard deduction and the $152 homeless deduction. His net monthly income for SNAP is $181, of which 30% is deducted from a SNAP allotment of $194.

Advocacy Reminders

  • If you are homeless and temporarily staying in a house or apartment where you pay for rent or utilities, you can get either the $152 homeless shelter deduction or the excess shelter deduction (based on your rent plus the applicable SUA), whichever is higher.

DTA Online Guide Sections:SNAP > Expenses and Deductions > Household Expenses > Homeless Households > Shelter Deduction for Homeless Households

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