Losing an identification card or other essential documents is a real inconvenience for most of us — long lines at the Secretary of State’s office, waiting for a new Social Security card in the mail, or having to pay online for a new birth certificate.
But for people experiencing homelessness, the loss of a vital ID record can be devastating.
Lacking any combination of the three essential documents – birth certificate, Social Security card, and state ID card – can prevent a homeless person from starting a new job, signing a lease, accessing public benefits, or doing something as simple as entering a government building.
Many homeless individuals have their belongings, including vital documents, lost or stolen because of their unstable living situation, leaving them with nothing. Getting a new ID without another ID can seem impossible, especially for those without financial resources and assistance.
A new brochure written by the CCH Law Project — Getting an Illinois ID and Other Identification Documents — provides critical information on how homeless individuals can go about the process of replacing their vital identification documents, even if they are starting with nothing.
The brochure explains new statutes, enacted by Cook County and the state of Illinois, that offer free birth records to people experiencing homelessness, using a verification form signed by homeless service provider, school homeless liaison, or an attorney. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocated for the enactment of both measures in 2017.
The brochure details how people can replace their Social Security cards using alternate forms of identification and how homeless youth and adults can apply for a free Illinois State Identification Card, again with verification from a homeless service provider.
Law Project staff will distribute this brochure during outreach at shelters, schools and drop-in centers, as well as conferences and school resource fairs.
– Roberto Martinez, Intake Specialist