Effective July 1, 2015, California law directs County Recorders to issue free copies of birth certificates to the homeless and directs the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) to issue free IDs to the homeless. The state will pick up the tab.
Identification is essential many basic tasks within a community. Successfully applying for a job, enrolling in public school, using a homeless shelter, obtaining an apartment, and using government services are just a few examples of actions requiring proper identification. Unfortunately, a birth certificate copy costs $28 and a DMV ID card costs $26 ($8 for low-income people), which puts those IDs beyond the meager resources of many homeless people.
In 2014, California passed AB 1733, to take effect July 1, 2015, ensuring that homeless people can obtain birth certificate copies and DMV IDs free of charge. This will allow homeless people to better manage their lives by accessing jobs, housing, schools and aid, rather than being stranded on the street without access to services requiring ID.
The state’s decision to pay the costs of producing birth certificates and DMV IDs is somewhat unique, as many other states’ residents must rely on non-profit organizations to pick up the costs of obtaining IDs.
The bill was spurred by the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man in Fullerton, California, who reportedly suffered from schizophrenia, was beaten by 3 police officers and died 5 days later from his injuries.
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