BOSTON — Lawmakers in the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill on Thursday designed to help make the process of obtaining state identification cards more accommodating for the state’s estimated 18,471 homeless population.

Bill 2043 would require the Registry of Motor Vehicles to establish a burden-free process for homeless individuals to register for ID cards, including waiving registration fees and accepting alternate documentation of residence from human service providers and state agencies. The documentation required is contingent on minimum standards from the RMV.

Supporters say the bill is a long-overdue response to the REAL ID Act of 2005, which has functionally excluded the estimated 5,377 homeless families and children in the state from transitioning to a more stable lifestyle. Under the REAL ID state minimum standards, documentation in Massachusetts must consist of a Social Security card, pay stub or tax form; along with with a passport, birth certificate or immigration form; and two proofs of Massachusetts residency.

State ID is currently required for a number of Massachusetts services, including job and housing placement, continuing education, library card registration. obtaining bank accounts and law enforcement interaction.

The bill, which was first introduced in January 2019 by Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) and State Representative Kay Khan (D-Middlesex) was unanimously approved during a Senate roll call on Thursday. It is expected to be introduced into the Massachusetts State House in the next few weeks before final approval from Governor Baker.

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