MA State Senate Passes Bill Facilitating Access to State IDs for Homeless

BOSTON – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed S.2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families.

Currently, a person who is looking to obtain a Massachusetts identification card must provide a proof of residence – a task that is unnecessarily burdensome for persons experiencing homelessness. This legislation creates exemptions in the process of obtaining an ID for those persons.

ID cards are essential items for applying to jobs, enrolling in schools, interacting with law enforcement, accessing government buildings, opening financial accounts, and many more basic services that many take for granted. The current financial and form-filling barriers that exist within the process to obtain a state ID encourage a cycle of poverty and prevent many people from getting back on their feet.

The approved legislation waives fees associated with obtaining a state ID for persons who are experiencing homelessness, and implements a process for those persons to apply for an ID using alternative proofs of residency.

“People without access to stable housing, unaccompanied homeless youth, and LGBTQ homeless youth especially, are some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable people, and we need to ensure that they have the fundamental opportunities needed to succeed.  One of those fundamental building blocks is state-issued IDs. Yet, people experiencing homelessness face significant barriers when they attempt to obtain their own ID. Providing those vulnerable populations with IDs is the first step in breaking down institutional barriers that fuel a cycle of poverty,” saidSenate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester).

“People struggling with homelessness face a number of significant challenges, and not having proper identification makes it exponentially more difficult to deal with them” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “Providing them with a state issued identification card is a simple but powerful way to give them a tool to secure employment, housing and important services to help themselves.”

“This bill will help some of the most vulnerable individuals in our Commonwealth access vital services,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in the Senate in removing one of the barriers that homeless adults and unaccompanied homeless youth unfortunately must confront in their everyday lives.”

Under this legislation, a proof of residency for persons experiencing homelessness can be established through alternative documentation that is determined to be satisfactory by the registrar. This alternative documentation can be provided by a homeless services provider or by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.