Legislative bill pushes for homeless to get government issued IDs

Imagine not having access to basic needs to function in today’s society, all because you don’t have a government issued ID.

A working group made up of experts from Legal Services, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Transportation was formed in the previous legislative session and advised lawmakers to hire a person to provide outreach services to help the homeless who are without a proper ID get off the streets quicker.

According to State Representative Dee Morikawa (D/Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea), that’s part of what’s holding back many of the homeless from getting off the streets.

A bill that she co-introduced in the House, HB2162, would appropriate funds to the Homeless Programs Office of the Department of Human Services for services to help the homeless obtain government-issued identification.

Rep. Morikawa wants about $60,000 to create a job for someone who will help the homeless get the proper documents.

“That way, they’ll get these documents, go to driver licensing, and get it without being turned away without improper documents,” she said.

A homeless person in Kakaako who went by the name Dean said he does have an ID, but added that “a lot of people here don’t have IDs because of the sweeps. Sometimes they accidentally take their personal belongings, they end up with no ID or information they need to get ahead.

“A lot of these places ask for these IDs, you know? But you cannot get an application until you show an ID.”

Here are some of the things you’ll need a government ID for:

  • Getting a job
  • Cashing a check
  • Opening a bank account
  • Signing a lease for an apartment
  • And receiving public benefits.

Connie Mitchell, Executive Director at the Institute for Human Services, said the homeless lacking proper identification is a problem she sees too often.

“When people don’t have an ID, it keeps them from accessing housing, employment, and benefits sometimes. You have to confirm the person is who they are. The government won’t accept anything, but what they say is necessary,” she said.

Lawmakers like Morikawa say that the bill will help not just the homeless, but other vulnerable populations like the elderly, low-income individuals and recently released prisoners.

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