Over the past year, Councilmember Grosso has been working to make it easier for D.C. residents to get access to identity documents, including birth certificates, identity cards, and driver’s licenses.
These documents are critical to modern daily life and Grosso began to learn in 2015 from advocates about the challenges that many residents face in obtaining them. Since then he has worked with his colleagues and groups like Bread for the City, Miriam’s Kitchen and Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless to tackle these issues.
Grosso introduced legislation to waive fees for various identity documents for low-income residents, worked with the Department of Human Services and Department of Motor Vehicles to help homeless residents get IDs more easily, and co-introduced legislation to make driver’s licenses more accessible to undocumented immigrants and low-income residents.
The latest victory in these efforts happened during the budget process. Grosso was able to secure language in the budget to waive the fee for copies of birth certificates for residents who are homeless.
The Department of Health will implement this policy starting October 1, 2016, the start of the new fiscal year. Until recently, some social service providers in the city would help cover these costs, but they are no longer providing that service.
A birth certificate is critical to helping an individual exit homelessness, yet is easy to lose during the course of unfortunate events that someone who is homeless might experience. Including this language in the budget is a small but important win, and Grosso will continue the push to make it easier for residents to obtain identity documents.