New Law Provides Free IDs for Homeless

If you live in any urban area in San Francisco, chances are high that you have seen at least one homeless person in your life. You may be on either side of the fence: why don’t you just get a job or there but for grace go I. No matter how you feel about the homeless, one thing is true…without ID, securing a job, going to school, or finding housing can be difficult, if not impossible, for these people.

A new law in California is making it easier to ensure that people are no longer stranded when they find themselves on the streets no matter the circumstances. According to Janet Kelly of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, “If you’re living on the street it’s very difficult to keep ahold and keep your documents safe.”

A new law went into effect in July, making it easier for homeless people to obtain the necessary documentation. In fact, the new documents will be handed out for free, making it even easier to obtain.

The law was inspired by a homeless man who had been living on the streets in Fullerton. Kelly Thomas was a homeless man with schizophrenia. In 2011, he was involved in an altercation with the police and died just five days later.

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva told KCET, “We are making sure they have IDs to access the services to get back on feet, either social services or mental health services. This is a simple step. Let’s just get these IDs in their hands.”

While there are non-profit groups around the country that will help homeless individuals navigate the bureaucracy of obtaining documentation, this is the first law that makes these papers free. For many homeless, it is not just the hassle of cutting through the red tape, but finding the money to pay for the new documents. Officials in California want to make it easier for people who have lost their homes to get their lives back in order.

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