Calgary homeless agencies are applauding the province’s move that makes it easier and cheaper for homeless people to obtain provincial identification.
The province announced Thursday that it will work with homeless shelters and licensing registries to reduce the red tape and fees they believe stop the homeless from getting ID cards.
Tim Richter, president of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, is supportive of the new initiative.
“This is brilliant because identification is the key to everything else. They can open bank accounts, rent apartments and get new jobs,” Richter said.
A homeless person who is registered at a shelter or visits regularly will be able to apply for a card through the shelter, officials said. Shelter workers will also help fill out forms and take them to a registry.
Mustard Seed director of programs Steve Griffin said the move makes sense.
“The clients are excited about this. It will empower them and give them a sense of independence and regain a level of dignity,” Griffin said.
“There are things people who have identification forget about and these things really mean so much to the people who don’t have them.”
Griffin said most clients have been curious, though he admitted some may be wary at first. Still, he expects most will be pleased with the newfound independence.
Shelter client Glenn said he was surprised about the fee that still applies to the homeless.
“I know I can find a way to pay for it, but there are some people that even just $12 is a little much for them and I am not sure they won’t go out of their way to pay that,” he said.
WITH FILES FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS