Lack of ID entrenches homelessness

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By TJ Johnston
TJ Johnston, editor of San Franciscan street paper Street Sheet, writes about losing his ID while experiencing homelessness.
In 2019, when I was homeless, I lost my ID. I retraced my steps to the shops where I knew I had taken it out when I fished for loyalty cards and cash in my pouch. No luck—it wasn’t at any of them. 
That meant that I had to undergo the rigmarole of replacing my ID. At least I still had my Social Security card, knew where I kept my birth certificate and had access to the paperwork waiving the fee to unhoused California residents—which is not the case for many people experiencing homelessness.
Without an ID issued by a local, state or federal agency, people experiencing homelessness can’t access public benefits or other services. When a person loses their ID with no replacement, they are virtually disappeared from society. It’s as if they don’t exist.

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