How to Get Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check if You’re Homeless

This photo shows a homeless camp set up with tents and spread out with social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Rectangles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing line a city-sanctioned homeless encampment at San Francisco's Civic Center on Thursday, May 21, 2020. If you are homeless, you can still qualify to receive a stimulus check. Noah Berger/AP Photo

This post refers to stimulus checks issued in 2020. For the most up-to-date info, check out our recent tax articles.

About 94% of Americans are eligible for a coronavirus stimulus check — and that includes people who don’t have a permanent place to live.

But if you’re homeless and you don’t receive government benefits, such as Social Security or SSI, the IRS may not have the information it needs to process your payment. Here’s what you need to do.

Find a Mailing Address You Can Use

The first thing you need to do is find an address you can use. That applies even if you have a bank account, because the IRS requires you to submit a mailing address.

Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

If someone you trust is willing to let you use their address, that’s probably the easiest solution.

Otherwise, you can go to a local post office and ask for general delivery of your mail. It’s a free option that lets you have your mail delivered to the post office, though it will only be held for 30 days. (Note: You may need an ID for this option.)

If there’s a local church or organization that works with people who don’t have housing, they may be willing to let you use their address.

Use the IRS Non-Filer Tool

If you didn’t file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, go to the IRS non-filer tool. You’ll need to provide the following:

  • Name
  • Mailing address and email address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license or state ID number, if you have one
  • Names and Social Security numbers of any dependent children

If you did file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, things could get complicated. There’s a good chance the IRS has already processed your payment and sent it to the bank account or mailing address on your return. In this case, you may have to wait until you can speak to a human at the IRS to determine what to do next.

How You’ll Get Paid

Even if you have a bank account, it’s too late to provide your account information to get paid via direct deposit. You’ll either receive your payment either by paper check or prepaid Visa card at the mailing address you provide.

It’s tough to say when you’ll get your payment, but you can track it using the IRS Get My Payment feature. Just be warned that the tool can be tough to use. Here are some ways to track your check if you’re one of the many people who experience difficulties using it.

P.S. If You Have Housing and Know Someone Who Doesn’t

And if you have housing, but you know someone who’s experiencing homelessness right now: A great way to help out is to let them use your internet to submit their information and use your mailing address to get their payment.

In tough times, you may not have the financial resources to help others out. But if you can lend someone a few minutes of stable internet and your mailing address, you could help them get much-needed relief money — and it won’t cost you a thing.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].