By Bob Katzen

The Senate 39-0 approved and sent to the House legislation that would make it easier for homeless youth and adults to secure free state ID cards.

Supporters said that currently a person experiencing homelessness faces prohibitive fees and documentation requirements when trying to obtain an ID card. They noted that this legislation removes those barriers by eliminating fees and only requiring that applicants present documentation showing that they are currently receiving services provided by the state, a homeless service provider or another service provider. They argued that ID cards are necessary for applying for jobs, enrolling in school, interacting with law enforcement, accessing government buildings, opening financial accounts and many other basic services that many take for granted.

“When we listen to our homeless youth about the challenges they face, there is a common denominator and that is access to identification,” said Sen. Robyn Kennedy (D-Worcester), the Senate sponsor of the bill. “Having proper identification is the foundation to accessing food, shelter and employment opportunities, while also breaking the cycle of poverty.”

“Fees and documentation are not just barriers to identification. By extension, they are barriers to getting a job, accessing healthcare and applying for services—the most basic of necessities,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “These barriers harm the most vulnerable people in our commonwealth and eliminating them is a compassionate step that makes the path to stability a little bit easier.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

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