Just because someone doesn’t have a permanent address doesn’t mean she is ineligible for food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) as it is formally known. SNAP workers will do their best to accommodate homeless people. When applying for SNAP benefits, homeless individuals living in shelters must submit a letter from a shelter employee stating that they live there. It doesn’t matter whether the homeless shelter provides meals.
If you are homeless with no income, you can qualify for as much as $192 per month in food stamps.
Authorized Representative Address
Although a homeless person may not have an address, he can use the address of an authorized representative as a place to receive his mail from SNAP. It is also possible for the homeless person to arrange to pick up related mail at the SNAP office or have mailings sent to the homeless shelter where he resides. The SNAP representatives will help the homeless with these issues.
SNAP Eligibility Limits
For 2018, a single person meeting the SNAP income eligibility requirements may receive a maximum monthly amount of $192. For a homeless household of two people, the maximum amount is $353. The SNAP benefits are credited to a card each month that the person can use to buy food.
In most cases, a household must meet both the gross income (total income before deductions) and net income (gross income minus allowable deductions) SNAP eligibility requirements. The net monthly income limit for one person is $1,012, putting a person at 100 percent of the federal poverty level, while the gross monthly income limit is $1,316, or 130 percent of the federal poverty level. For a household of two, the net and gross monthly income limits are $1,372 and $1,784 respectively. SNAP income limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.
If a homeless person is already receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or is a member of a household receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), he is usually “categorically eligible” for SNAP as the United States Department of Agriculture terms it, because these other means-tested programs have already determined eligibility. Persons under age 18 who do not live with their parents may apply for SNAP on their own.
Homeless Shelters and Soup Kitchens
Homeless people aren’t limited to using SNAP benefits at the supermarket. They can also use their SNAP benefits at other facilities, such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Some states permit the use of SNAP benefits in restaurants, although this use requires a special card. A homeless individual can request such a card from their SNAP representative.
SNAP Work Requirements
Although SNAP doesn’t have requirements for a fixed address, it does include work requirements for some applicants. Able-bodied adults with no dependents must work, or visit a work program, at least 20 hours per week for SNAP eligibility. People cannot quit jobs voluntarily or reject suitable work offers and retain SNAP benefits. Pregnant women, individuals with children under age 6, those over 60 or under 18 and people with diagnosed mental or physical disabilities do not have to meet the work requirements.
- SNAP: 10 Myths and Facts About SNAP for Homeless Persons
- USDA: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- USDA: Are you homeless? You might be able to get food help from SNAP!
- USDA: Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs)
- Snap, Inc. "Snap Inc. Announces Third Quarter 2020 Financial Results," Page 1. Accessed Oct. 20, 2020.
- CNBC. "Snapchat sees growth in direct response ads during coronavirus pandemic." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.
- Snap, Inc. "Snap Inc. Q3 2020 Earnings," Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.
- Visible Alpha. "Home Page." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.