BY CAMERYN FOX
Having an ID is crucial for the success of someone who is navigating hard times. Without an ID, you are unable to find housing, obtain a job, or apply for government benefits. Everything a client needs to begin their journey to a brighter future begins with obtaining an ID.
This can be a difficult process, which is why Marian House Client Services give clients the opportunity and tools to get started on making positive changes in their lives, including help with obtaining an ID.
Sounds simple, right? It’s not. When people, especially those who face homelessness, are trapped in the cycle of needing an ID to obtain an ID, they begin to lose hope and give up on the resources that are available to them. According to a survey by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), homeless persons were denied a variety of benefits when they lacked a photo ID, including:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
- Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) benefits
- food stamps
- access to shelters or housing services
- access to Medicaid or medical services.
Depending on the month and the service, 31 – 54% of people applying for these benefits were denied.
Additionally, people without identification face increased problems with law enforcement according to NLCHP’s survey,
- 7% of homeless persons were asked by an officer to produce an ID
- 8% suffered harassment or arrest if they could not produce an ID
- 8% had their IDs confiscated by police
Many homeless persons cannot afford the cost of a photo ID. NLCHP’s survey indicated 36% of clients could not get a photo ID because they could not afford one. As one of our recent clients stated, “If you do not have an ID, you can’t do anything.”
IDs are a necessity of life in the modern world, especially since 9-11. People who don’t have one or don’t have the means of obtaining one are stuck in a cycle of helplessness. Catholic Charities opens doors to opportunities simply by providing a means for obtaining an ID. Once secured, more services and benefits become available. This is the first and one of the most important steps in being able to decrease homelessness.
Not being able to prove who you are is hard without documentation. Everyone has the right to be identified and recognized, and Catholic Charities ensures our clients receive this right by helping them get a new or replacement ID and a copy of their birth certificate. It is a way of giving them the dignity they deserve.
Cameryn Fox is a Marketing Intern with Catholic Charities of Central Colorado and a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.