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What is in-kind income (and how can you avoid having it counted)?

Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2017

In-kind income is something you get free, such as free rent, utilities or food. SNAP (food stamps), MassHealth, housing subsidies and other benefits are not counted as in-kind income. DTA counts in-kind income in figuring the grant amount, but not for the Gross Income Eligibility or Net Income tests. 106 C.M.R. § 204.210(C).DTA reduces the grants of homeless families in an emergency shelter or motel by $148.50 a month, because the family receives free shelter and utilities. DTA does not reduce the grants of homeless families receiving rental assistance or families placed in short term housing arrangements. DTA Operations Memo 2011-48 (Nov. 3, 2011); DTA Online Guide (HomeBASE Impact DTA Programs/Requirements).

DTA does not count in-kind income if it is

  • for only part of a need listed in the In-Kind Chart (for example, part of the rent), or
  • for a need not listed in the In-Kind Chart (for example, diapers, clothing, school fees). 106 C.M.R. § 204.510.
In-Kind Chart
Items received free Amount counted
as in-kind income
Rent or mortgage
Unheated facility
Heated facility
$102.00 per month
$126.30 per month
Fuel $27.90 per month
Utilities $18.60 per month
Food (individual) $41.80 per month


Carol and her child live rent-free with Carol’s mother. Because Carol does not pay rent or utilities, DTA counts $126.30 per month as income to Carol. Carol can avoid having the free rent and utilities counted by paying her mother a small amount each month for rent and utilities (for example, $10). If her mother is on TAFDC (or EAEDC or SSI) Carol can pay the money directly to the mortgage and utility companies so that the payments will not count against her mother’s grant, or her mother can deduct the payments as business expenses. See 106 C.M.R. § 204.210(E).

Advocacy Reminder

Be sure to tell DTA if you are moving from an emergency shelter, motel, or temporary housing so DTA will know that it should stop reducing your grant by $148.50 a month. 

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