The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed An Act to provide identification to youth and adults experiencing homelessness, to establish a process allowing an adult or youth experiencing homelessness to apply for a free Massachusetts identification card. Identification cards enable access to basic services in the Commonwealth that are often unreachable for those without identification.
“I am proud to support this bill because it provides crucial support to people experiencing incredibly challenging circumstances and it will work to address our housing crisis,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “All Massachusetts residents deserve access to food, healthcare, and housing, and providing proper identification will take a step toward expanding that right to every person. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Senator Robyn Kennedy, and all my colleagues for fighting for people experiencing homelessness, and I hope to see this bill signed into law soon.”
People experiencing homelessness currently face prohibitive fees and documentation requirements that can be barriers to acquiring identification. 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 Commonwealth, a homeless service provider, or another service provider.
Having a state identification is a prerequisite for accessing many basic services, including applying for a job, enrolling in school, interacting with law enforcement, accessing government buildings, and opening bank accounts, among others. The struggles of homelessness are compounded by an inability to access these basic services, and often contribute to a cycle of poverty.
This is the fourth consecutive session during which the Senate has adopted similar legislation.
The bill now heads to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.