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City Council Funds Program Helping Residents Obtain Personal Identification Documents

Access to Identification Is Vital to Achieving Economic Security but Out of Reach for Too Many

[COLUMBUS, OH] Tonight, Council passed ordinance 2129-2019 to support the South Side ID Project associated with Community Development for All People. The Project provides residents with financial assistance and guidance to obtain personal identification documents such as birth certificates and state identification cards.

A national study by the Brennan Center for Justice revealed that among the overall population above age 18, an estimated 11 percent lacks a valid government-issued photo ID, and seven percent lacks proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. The report also highlighted that the lack of photo ID is disproportionately high among specific groups across the United States:

  • Twenty-five percent of African-Americans
  • Eighteen percent of senior citizens
  • Fifteen percent of those earning less than $35,000 per year, which is twice the rate of those with higher incomes

In addition to the groups identified in the Brennan report, lack of identification is also an acute problem for women, whose IDs may not reflect their current legal name, as well as for vulnerable populations such as survivors of domestic violence, homeless individuals, and those returning from incarceration.

"Without ID, it is nearly impossible to access critical resources such as employment, housing, banking, and education," said President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown. "We are excited to invest in the knowledge and vision of the resident leaders behind the South Side ID Project, who saw first-hand the ripple effect the lack of ID has on their neighbors' lives," she said.

The South Side ID Project is a creation of United Way of Central Ohio's South Side Neighborhood Leadership Academy, which tasks participants with diagnosing a problem in their community and taking action. The 2018 cohort identified access to ID as a critical need in their area and more recently joined forces with Community Development for All People to expand its reach.

"We wanted to help ensure everyone could participate in decisions impacting our local community and had access to available resources. We discovered that a huge barrier for many people was having the proper documentation required to obtain that access," said 2018 South Side Academy graduate Lori Fisher. "This program helps eliminate barriers to acquiring IDs that residents need to vote, to access resources, as well as for employment," she continued.

Since its launch at the end of 2018, the South Side ID Project has received 225 applications for assistance pertaining to more than 400 documents. Because proof of place and date of birth is required to enroll in public school, the number of requests recently skyrocketed as the start of the school year approaches. Funding from City Council will help the Project reach hundreds of additional residents and their families.

"We cannot allow financial barriers to obstruct residents' access to proper ID, which is itself vital to securing economic prosperity," said Pro Tem Brown. "This common-sense investment will have a measurable impact on the quality of life of our residents.” 

For more information on the South Side ID Project call Atticus Garden at 614-445-7342 ext. 27 or email [email protected].