NYC’s Municipal ID Program

NYC’s Municipal ID Program: A PTH Member’s Perspective

The following comments were developed by Red, a member of Picture the Homeless, and submitted to the New York City Council’s Committee on Immigration on May 1st, 2015, for an Oversight Hearing on Implementation of IDNYC – New York City’s Municipal Identification Program.

While we were proud to support the administration and the council’s work on the municipal identification program, and are excited about its potential to help homeless people avoid unnecessary arrest, our testimony today will focus on the following areas in which the program needs to be improved.

  • 311 gives out bad information about what kind of documents are needed in order to get the ID, and are not trained to be aware of and helpful with the particular challenges that homeless people face while trying to access the ID. They told Red that any piece of mail with his name and an address would be sufficient for obtaining the ID, which is not true.
  • The process is too complicated, and presents obstacles to people whose lives are in a disrupted state due to homelessness or other traumatic life situations.
  • The process takes too long. Red got his appointment only through a cancellation, and when he needed to reschedule due to the bad information he got from 311, the next available appointment was two months away. Street homeless people are often subject to arrest on a weekly or monthly arrest, and that means people will be put through the criminal justice system multiple times while they wait for their appointment and then their ID—at significant cost to taxpayers.