Homelessness is a major issue in the United States, which makes simple things such as receiving regular mail difficult when an individual doesn’t have a permanent address.
To that end, the United States Postal Service offers the option for General Delivery, but how does USPS General Delivery work for the homeless? Is it like a PO box? If you’d like to learn the answers, keep reading!
What Is USPS General Delivery Mail For The Homeless In 2024?
The United States Postal Service offers General Delivery to homeless individuals with no permanent address as a way for them to receive mail consistently and reliably in 2024. General Delivery may be used as an alternative to a free P.O box, as the Post Office holds mail behind the counter for convenient pick-up.
If you’d like to learn more about USPS General Delivery mail for homeless individuals, why might you opt for General Delivery instead of a P.O box, how it works, and more, keep reading to learn more interesting facts!
Why Should You Use USPS General Delivery Mail For The Homeless Instead Of a PO Box?
For the homeless in the United States, the Postal Service offers two free options to receive mail: a P.O box or General Delivery.
While P.O boxes are slightly more convenient (since many can be accessed 24/7), they can also be popular in general.
So, if you live in a smaller town or city with only one or two Post Office locations, there is a chance that your location won’t have any available P.O boxes.
As well, P.O boxes require the keeping of a key, so the nature of homelessness for some may be incompatible with keeping such a small item safe.
Therefore, if either of these situations is true, then General Delivery is a terrific alternative.
With General Delivery, the postal employees simply hold your accumulated mail behind the counter for you to come pick up at your convenience.
The only downside is that if you miss the Post Office’s retail hours, you’ll have to come back another day, as the mail can only be retrieved by someone behind the counter.
Also, you have 30 days to collect your mail from the date the Post Office receives it.
Nevertheless, using this method, homeless individuals don’t have to worry about mail finding them, and senders can be sure that their mailpieces are going somewhere safe for the recipient to retrieve.
What Do You Need To Get USPS General Delivery Mail For The Homeless?
Signing up for USPS General Delivery as a homeless individual is quite simple.
You’ll need a photo ID if you have one, but if you don’t, you will have to be a known person to your Post Office’s local Postmaster.
However, if you have neither of the above options, someone such as a social worker or law enforcement officer who has known you for a while may attest to your identity to the Postmaster.
Next, you can simply go into the Post Office location and ask if they provide General Delivery.
However, note that not every Post Office offers this choice; sometimes, if there are multiple locations in one city, there is a “main” branch which handles General Delivery.
The Post Office will then collect as much information as you have about yourself, including your name, a way to contact you (phone and/or email), and your ID if you have one.
Additionally, you don’t need to fill out an application to receive General Delivery.
How Do You Pick Up USPS General Delivery Mail For The Homeless?
Picking up USPS General Delivery Mail for a homeless individual is as easy as walking into your Post Office and asking the person at the counter for your General Delivery mail. Simply give them your name and provide your ID if it’s requested.
As mentioned above, General Delivery is slightly less convenient than a PO box, because the mail can only be retrieved during retail hours while there’s someone behind the counter.
(If this proves too bothersome for you, you can ask to be put on a waitlist for a free P.O box until one opens up.)
You can find your Post Office location’s hours using the location search here.
How Much Does USPS General Delivery Mail For The Homeless Cost?
USPS General Delivery for homeless individuals is completely free of charge (as are P.O boxes).
The dissemination of information via mail is a constitutionally assured right to each citizen in the United States (USPS was founded at a time when kings could suppress such dissemination).
A monetary barrier to receiving information ( i.e mail would be technically unconstitutional).
The Postal Service’s General Delivery mail service is a free alternative for many homeless individuals for whom P.O boxes are not available.
Signing up requires no application, and once established, those without a permanent address no longer have to worry about mail not reaching them.