Local program helps the homeless get badly needed IDs, but it could be in danger

Government IDs are needed to get jobs, cash checks, and vote.
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 8:22 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board is working to help those experiencing homelessness get birth certificates and state identification. The program, called ID Me, comes as research shows a lack of identification can trap people in a cycle of homelessness.

According to the board, IDs can become lost in the process of becoming homeless or while someone is living on the streets. Without an ID, it is nearly impossible to get a job, cash a check, sign a lease, or receive healthcare. In Ohio, it is also impossible to vote without government identification, and without a birth certificate children can't be registered for school.

The first step in the program is to get that birth certificate, which is required to get other forms of ID. Representatives with the board can usually get an in-state birth certificate in 5-7 days. An out-of-state ID takes about 10.

“Think of an individual who’s homeless,” says Candace Bishop, the Grants Administrator for the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board. “They’re already walking around with the weight of the world on their shoulders, trying to figure out how to find their way back to permanent housing in addition to having very little access to documents that are necessary to go through the process to achieve permanent housing.”

For the last three years, TLCHB has helped the area's homeless population secure birth certificates and a path to stability. Getting one required money, filling out applications, and an address where paperwork can be received. Many lack these resources so the program provides them.

The program, however, is completely run on grants and there is no guarantee it will be around next year. Grant money is running low and with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the economy, demand for grant money is up.

“I am worried,” explains Bishop. “I’m worried because this program is absolutely necessary for our community, and so the continuation of the funding for this program is going to be vital to the success of it.”

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