By Bob Katzen

The Senate 37-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would require the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to create a process for a person who is homeless or is an unaccompanied homeless youth under 24 years old to apply for a Massachusetts identification card at no cost. The applicant would be required to prove his status and submit proof of residency by documenting that he or she receives services from a state or private agency.

Under current law, a person who is looking to obtain a Bay State ID card must provide a proof of residence – a task that is nearly impossible for a homeless person.

Supporters said that the homeless face huge obstacles to receiving an ID card and noted this would make it easier for them. They said currently eight states have taken this important step in the battle against homelessness and noted that some human service providers estimate that half of their clients lack ID cards.

“People experiencing homelessness encounter countless barriers, trials and challenges in their daily lives, and for youth especially, access to simple educational and economic opportunities is often barred by the lack of official identification,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester). “I’m proud to co-sponsor this legislation, which takes straightforward, concrete steps to improve access to state services for homeless youth.”

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