Homeless individuals or households may be eligible for SNAP benefits and can be separate households from others with whom they live. The CAO must not deny benefits because an individual or household is homeless. See Chapter 523.
A homeless individual is someone who has no home where he or she sleeps every night (called a “fixed nighttime residence”) or someone whose primary nighttime residence is any of the following:
7 CFR § 271.2
A welfare hotel, congregate shelter, or other supervised temporary living shelter
A halfway house or other temporary shelter for individuals
A temporary accommodation in another individual's residence for 90 days or less
A place such as a hallway, bus station, lobby, car, abandoned building, or other place not meant for use as a regular sleeping accommodation
An individual does not need a mailing address or a fixed residence to be eligible for SNAP benefits. An individual only needs an address where the CAO can mail benefits and correspondence.
The address may be any of the following:
The mailing address of a friend or relative
A post office box
A social service agency
Any address where the client can get mail without threat of it being lost or stolen
The CAO (as a last resort)
The CAO may need to help elderly or disabled households, homeless households, or households with no fixed mailing address find an authorized representative (AR) and obtain an EBT card by arranging to have the card mailed to the AR. See Chapter 505.
A homeless household is one composed only of homeless individuals.
The rules in Section 510.1 for household composition apply to homeless individuals as follows:
A homeless individual may be a one-person household.
A group of homeless individuals (for example, a battered person and his or her children) may be a household.
A homeless individual who lives temporarily with others for 90 days or less may be a separate household if the homeless individual buys and makes meals separately and is not a mandatory household member.
A homeless household must meet the same income, resource, and eligibility requirements as any other household.
A meal provider for the homeless is any public or private nonprofit organization that feeds homeless individuals, and may be any of the following:
A soup kitchen,
A halfway house, supervised shelter, or similar organization that temporarily houses people, See Section 511.4, or
A restaurant that has a contract to offer meals at low or reduced prices to the homeless.
NOTE: Homeless persons residing with others but not in shelters have a 90-day provision. (See Section 511.2 and Section 511.22.)
The Division of Federal Programs and Program Management is responsible for approving meal providers for the homeless.
7 CFR § 272.9
All requests for approval of meal providers for the homeless must contain the agency name, contact person, address and telephone number. Upon receipt of a request, the CAO management staff must forward the information by email or mail to:
Note: If emailing certifications for more than one facility, please attach each facility as a separate document.
Bureau Of Policy
ATTN DFPPM/SNAP UNIT
CoPA HUB STE 240/250
2525 N 7th ST
PO BOX 2675
HARRISBURG, PA 17105 - 2675
(717) 772-6451 Fax
Residents of public or private nonprofit shelters for homeless individuals are eligible to participate in SNAP. Residents may not use their SNAP benefits to buy groceries for others to eat at a shelter or soup kitchen.
7CFR § 273.1(b)(7)(vi)(E) and 7 CFR § 274.7(g)(4)
If a homeless facility is not an approved homeless meal provider and requests that residents apply for SNAP, residents may apply for SNAP on the same basis as any other household.
If a homeless facility asks residents to apply for SNAP benefits and also asks that homeless individuals be allowed to use SNAP benefits to buy meals from its facility, the facility must be approved as a Homeless Meal Provider.
7 CFR § 272.9
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) requires state agency approval before it will authorize a provider to accept SNAP benefits from homeless individuals to buy prepared meals. See Section 511.4.
7 CFR § 278.1
A Homeless Meal Provider cannot be an AR. Residents of an approved homeless facility have the right to use their SNAP benefits at any approved vendor. They are not restricted to using their SNAP benefits only at the homeless facility.
7 CFR § 273.2(n)(4)(d)
Homeless individuals may also buy meals from restaurants authorized to accept SNAP.
7 CFR § 274.7(g)(4)(ii)
NOTE: At this time there are no authorized restaurants in the state that accept SNAP.
Reissued October 6, 2022, Replacing September 21, 2016