(BOSTON—7/27/23) The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday unanimously passed An Act to provide identification to youth and adults experiencing homelessness, to establish a process allowing an adult or youth experiencing homelessness to apply for a free Massachusetts identification card. Identification cards enable access to basic services in the Commonwealth that are often unreachable for those without identification.

“Access to identification is a fundamental right that opens doors to essential services and opportunities. By eliminating the financial hurdle associated with obtaining identification, this legislation contributes to the empowerment and support of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Senator Michael D. Brady (D-Brockton).

People experiencing homelessness currently face prohibitive fees and documentation requirements that can be barriers to acquiring identification. This legislation removes those barriers by eliminating fees and only requiring that applicants present documentation showing that they are currently receiving services provided by the Commonwealth, a homeless service provider, or another service provider.

Having a state identification is a prerequisite for accessing many basic services, including applying for a job, enrolling in school, interacting with law enforcement, accessing government buildings, and opening bank accounts, among others. The struggles of homelessness are compounded by an inability to access these basic services, and often contribute to a cycle of poverty.

This is the fourth consecutive session during which the Senate has adopted similar legislation.

The bill now heads to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.