May 1, 2017

ID's Legislation in Texas Needs Help

There are three bills pending for the 2017 Regular Legislative Session in Texas that relate to Identification for clients of street youth. None seem terribly objectionable but without support from the public it's not clear they will be reported out of committee and move forward.

Identification has become quite difficult to obtain ever since 9/11 -- for good reasons. However, as a homeless person, it has become increasingly difficult to get Texas Identification cards from DPS. Our clients often face a very frustrating period of 3 or 4 months in order to get their ID, only to often turn around and have it stolen or lost on the streets. They often face extremely frustrating requirements such as needing ID to get their birth certificate and needing a birth certificate to get ID. Or similarly, needing an ID to get proof of social security ID and needing social security ID to get a photo ID. The only portion of the process that seems easy is, ironically, proof of residency. We are able to notarize for clients a statement testifying that they are homeless.

One proposed legislations would make it simpler for every homeless person to obtain ID. And two other proposed legislations would apply to youth in foster care and homeless young people through age 21 (or possibly 24).

HB 3354 - Was referred to Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee about a month ago – it has not gotten a hearing yet, and if it doesn’t get a hearing in about a week it will be dead.

HB 3561 - Was voted out of committee two days ago – there was a committee substitute, and this language is not on the Internet yet, but should be next week.

SB2107 – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee about a month ago, and has not gotten a hearing yet. The drop-dead date for Senate bills is a little later than house bills.

Street Youth Ministry strongly encourages citizens of Texas to support passage of simpler DPS IDs for homeless and especially homeless youth. If we want our homeless to get jobs, find housing, apply for benefits, they desperately need IDs quickly. So much of the work in social justice focuses on attempting to help homeless navigate the frustrating, changing, and challenging requirements for DSP issued ID. And these IDs are prerequisite for so many programs and opportunities that we all want our homeless to avail themselves of. It only makes sense to take away this barrier for all homeless and especially younger homeless. Many homeless reports giving up their plans to return to normalcy after repeatedly experiencing frustrations and setups in obtaining IDs. 

Please contact your representative to let them know you would like these bills to come out of committee and be approved this year!