Government IDs Help Empower Low-Income Individuals

February 15, 2024

A government-issued identification card is integral for gaining access to essential services such as food, housing, and employment in the United States. Minoritized and low-income individuals often face greater difficulties in acquiring an ID card, which can perpetuate situations of homelessness or poverty by obstructing access to basic provisions. 

To counter this problem, Identity Access Project, based in Baltimore, Maryland, helps people navigate the process of obtaining government issued IDs. IAP works with Maryland non-profit organizations and individuals experiencing homelessness, citizens returning from incarceration, domestic violence victims, youth aging out of foster care, and survivors of human trafficking to help make the process more seamless.  

In 2022, with funding from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Dr. Karin Tobin examined IAP’s impact on the Baltimore community. Dr. Tobin found that organizational staff found IAPs services highly acceptable, cost efficient, transparent, and an essential service that allowed their organizations to obtain out-of-state birth certificates for their clients and helped their clients receive services more quickly.  

Many also shared that obtaining an ID enabled beneficiaries to receive government aid and services, apply for jobs, gain entrance into shelters or apply for housing, avoid issues with the police, and establish a sense of identity. 

These results underscore the need for policies, such as Senate Bill 77, that make it easier to obtain IDs, and for established organizational practices to use services like IAP.  

In the coming months, the Executive Director of IAP will present these findings to a national steering committee of NGOs working to address this problem. IAP hopes to use these evaluation results to begin working with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to create a strategic plan to grow IAP’s reach and funding. 

Stay Connected to the Initiative

Receive all the latest news from the Initiative by following us on Twitter, signing up for the American Health Dispatch newsletter, subscribing to the American Health Podcast, and subscribing to our YouTube channel.

Contact Us