Identity Crisis

Shelters and food pantries are lifelines for homeless people. But soon they may be out of reach. When in May the House passed the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act (HR 1427), which allots approximately $500 million annually for affordable low-income housing, tacked on was an amendment introduced by Georgia Republican Tom Price that requires recipients of housing assistance and homeless services to prove their citizenship or legal status.

They must show federally acceptable forms of identification such as a passport, a Social Security card accompanied by a federal- or state-issued photo I.D. card, or a state-issued driver’s license that is compliant with the 2005 federal REAL ID Act. But “homeless people don’t have these forms of ID,” says Tulin Ozdeger of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. And without any one form of identification, it’s impossible to get another. To quote Yossarian, “That’s some catch, that Catch-22.”

Shelterforce is the only independent, non-academic publication covering the worlds of community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.


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