Help for Homeless People and People with Low or No Income

This article was produced by LARCC in cooperation with CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Help for Homeless People and People with Low or No Income

Video: Applying for SSI
Video: Help for Domestic Violence Victims Living in Federally Subsidized or Public Housing

The programs listed below are for people with low or no income or who are homeless. If you qualify for one program, you may also qualify for others.

For most of these programs, you must apply to DSS (Department of Social Services). If you:

Click on any topic below to learn more:

Cash Assistance

If you cannot work and…

  • Do not have children at home, you could get about $200 a month in SAGA cash. But first, ask DSS for a SAGA form and ask your doctor or mental health professional to fill it out.
  • Have children at home, a family of 3 could get about $570 a month, called TFA cash assistance.

To learn more about the Cash Assistance program and how to apply, click here.

Disability and SSI

SSI and Disability are federal programs that help people who cannot work because of a disability. You are eligible if your disability:

  • Keeps you from working for a year or more, or
  • Will cause you to die.

What kinds of disabilities qualify?

You will qualify if you have a:

  • Physical condition that:
    • Makes it hard for you to walk, sit, stand, lift or carry, or
    • Causes you pain, tiredness, shortness of breath or other serious symptom that affects your ability to work.
  • Mental health condition that causes serious problems with your:
    • Memory, thinking, understanding, moods, concentration, or
    • Ability to work with other people.

To learn more about Disability and SSI and how to apply, click here.

If you are getting DSS emergency housing and cash assistance…

Ask DSS if you are eligible for help with:

  • Moving expenses.
  • Expenses to store your things (in some situations)
  • Money to pay a security deposit for heating.
  • Money to pay a security deposit for a new apartment if you can afford the rent.
  • Fixing or replacing clothing or household items

If I get approved for SSI or Disability, can I get other aid, too?

Yes, you may be eligible for these programs, too:

  • Medicaid
  • SNAP (Food Stamps)
  • StateSupplement program (includes cash assistance and sometimes other kinds of help)
  • Medicare Savings Program (helps pay the Part B premium)
  • Subsidized housing for the elderly/disabled (Call Infoline: 211)

You can get an application for these programs online. Then take your completed application to your local DSS office. Call 211 for the local DSS address.

SNAP (Food Stamps)

SNAP helps pay for food. You can get an application online. Get your completed application to DSS by

  • Fax 860-812-0022
  • Mail- DSS ConneCT Scanning Center
    PO Box 1320, Manchester, CT 06045
  • Drop off at your local DSS office.  Call 211 for the local DSS address. 

 211 can also tell you about:

  • Soup kitchens that serve free meals, and
  • Food pantries that can give you free food.

Energy Assistance

If you are low-income, there are a few energy assistance programs that could help you, including:

  • “Hardship” protection from shutoffs,
  • Energy assistance, and
  • Arrearage forgiveness programs.

To find out where to apply, call 211 or contact:

Basic Needs Program

If you are in treatment for a drug, alcohol, or mental health problem, this program can help pay for emergency needs, such as food, transportation, and housing.

Ask your substance abuse or mental health treatment provider to apply for you. Your counselor can apply:

Free Phone Service

If you are low income, you could get a free mobile phone with free minutes.

To apply:

Say you want to apply for “Lifeline Phone Service.”

Child Care

If your family is low to moderate income, Care for Kids could pay for all or some of your child care costs.

To apply:

Health Insurance

You may qualify for free or low-cost health insurance with one of these programs:

  • HUSKY is for children under 19, pregnant women, and some parents or other caregivers. To see if you qualify, call 877-284-8759.
  • Medicaid for Low Income Adults is for adults (19-64) with low or no income. If you have SSI or Medicare, you do not qualify. 

Apply for either program:

  • Online at the DSS website, or                                                                                                                   
  • Call 800-656-6684.

Security Deposit

DSS has a program that may help you pay your security deposit in limited situations. Ask your DSS worker how to apply.

Find a Job

The Connecticut Department of Labor website helps people find jobs.

  • Visit them online, or
  • Call 211 to find out more.

Emergency Housing

If you get cash assistance from DSS and become homeless, you can get up to 60 days of emergency housing once a year. 

To apply:

  • Contact your DSS worker within 45 days of becoming homeless.
  • Call 211 to ask about emergency housing and shelters.

Homeless with children in school

Your children can stay in their same school for the whole school year even if you are homeless. The children can also go to any other school in the area where you are staying.

What if they make my child go to a different school?

If the district sends your child to a school that you did not want, they must give you the reasons in writing. They must also tell you how to appeal their decision.

What if I am not happy about the school assigned to my children?

You can get help from:

What if my children don’t have proof of their vaccines or other school records?

They can still go to school. If they have never been in a Connecticut school until now, they will go to school in the district where you are staying.

School meals and transportation

Ask the school to enroll your children in the school lunch program for free lunches. Some schools also have free breakfasts. If you need help with transportation, the school must transport your children to school.

If you are a teen on your own…

You have the right to go to school and get help with transportation. For help, contact the Center for Children’s Advocacy hotline:

CCA Teen Hotline:
(860) 570-5327,
(203) 223-8975, or


If you are a veteran you may be eligible for additional help including:

  • Help with rent, utilities, or other basic needs through the Soldiers’, Sailors’, and Marines’ Fund,
  • Help with tuition, tax exemption, and other benefits. 

Call 211 and ask about special help for veterans.

What if DSS denies me benefits or does not give me all the benefits I asked for?

If DSS says you cannot get benefits or cannot get all the benefits you asked for, ask for a hearing. You must do this within 60 days of when they denied you. It’s also a good idea to talk to a DSS supervisor about your situation.

Sample appeal letterHow do I ask for a hearing?

  • Fill out and return the appeal form that came with the denial, or
  • Mail or fax DSS a letter asking for a hearing. Use the address or fax number printed on your notice. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. Your letter should have:
  • Your name, address, the date, and your DSS client number
  • Your reason for wanting a hearing
  • Your signature

If you send it by fax, keep your fax confirmation.

Send your fax to 860-424-5729.

What happens at the hearing?

  1. The officer may ask you why you think you qualify for DSS programs.
  2. Answer the officer.
  3. The officer will also ask DSS to explain their side.
  4. The officer will decide which side s/he agrees with: you or DSS.

Can someone help me get ready for the hearing?

Statewide Legal Services can give you free advice. Call to ask for help with your hearing:


Remember! Keep a copy of everything you give to DSS!

This booklet was produced by the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut in cooperation with Connecticut Legal Services, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and Statewide Legal Services.  The information in this booklet is based on laws in Connecticut as of August 2013. We hope that the information is helpful. It is not intended as legal advice. For advice on your situation, call Statewide Legal Services or contact a lawyer.

For more information, contact:

Statewide Legal Services: 860-344-0380 (Central CT & Middletown) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other regions).

For people over 60, click here to get help from legal aid.

Not from Connecticut?

Most of the information on this web site is for Connecticut residents only.
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