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Bill Would Make It Easier For Homeless To Get State IDs

BOSTON (AP) — A bill approved by the Massachusetts Senate would make it easier for people who are homeless to obtain a state ID.

Under current state law, a person experiencing homelessness who wants to obtain a Massachusetts identification card is faced with costly fees and documentation requirements, including providing proof of a residence that they may not have.

The bill would waive fees for people experiencing homelessness and let them meet the proof of residency requirements by presenting documentation from an entity providing services in the state, such as a homeless shelter, or that shows that the applicant is receiving services provided by the state.

Identification cards are needed for a number of activities including applying for jobs, enrolling in school, interacting with law enforcement, accessing government buildings and opening bank accounts.

The inability to receive an ID prevents many people who are homeless from accessing basic services and has been linked to a cycle of poverty, according to backers of the bill.

"For homeless individuals, barriers to obtaining an ID mean more barriers to accessing basic and vital activities and assistance," said Leemarie Mosca, president of Rosie's Place, a Boston woman's shelter.

The Senate approved similar bills in 2018 and 2020, but they failed to reach Gov. Charlie Baker's desk.

The bill now heads to the Massachusetts House.

(© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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