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A picture of US identity documents, including a drivers license and a birth certificate.

Increasing Access to Identity Documents for Youth Experiencing Homelessness

March 2, 2021

By Diamond Lovette and Teth Pickens, Youth Action Council members
& Chris Venable, Coordinated Access Network (CAN) Homeless Youth Liaison, Journey Home 

The Youth Action Council (YAC) in the Greater Hartford and Central CT CANs is comprised of a group of concerned youth with lived experience who are working together to create dynamic change in order to meet the diverse and varying needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness- with an overarching goal to make sure that youth homelessness is rare, brief, and one time. YAC members take a lead role in the work of the group that is facilitated by Journey Home, and focus on providing feedback to Journey Home and the broader CAN system to improve services and access to services in the following areas: outreach, diversion, prevention, and advocacy. Two YAC members have provided personal statements in support of Proposed Bill No. 42 on the importance of increasing access to identity documents by waiving fees in order to obtain them. Additional information on the statistics that support these efforts can be found here

We live in a society where having identity documents is a requirement, yet they are not accessible to everyone. In the journey to eliminate this issue, a great start would be illuminating the barrier of income. Hello My name is Diamond Lovette and I am part of the Youth Action Council. We are individuals who are able to provide a voice and perspective on youth homelessness and housing instability from our personal experience and this is a topic we have a strong opinion on. As someone who has struggled with homelessness myself, I have seen firsthand how this issue has affected not only us youths, but also disabled people, veterans, etc. My fiancé struggled with being able to obtain his documents for over 2 years. Considering that every person should have these types of documents anyway, there shouldn't be income-related barriers to prevent anyone from getting them for themselves. –Diamond Lovette 

My name is Teth, and I am a part of the (YAC) Youth Action Council covering the Greater Hartford area. I was a youth affected by not having access to my birth certificate during my time of homelessness. So with that lived experience, the importance of having my documents came in to play when I was 18 moving into my apartment with a program in Manchester. My living situation before being able to sign a lease was on the streets of Hartford. So when I discharged from DCF as a youth and didn't have contact with my guardian at the time, I was unable to access any of my identification documents. 

I say that to give you a detailed picture on what a homeless person may be enduring- just trying to obtain the necessary documents which would be needed in order to get a job, and a job is needed to obtain an apartment. So if you look at it for the chain events that it is, you'll realize that being a part of the solution is creating the legislation that makes it easier for homeless individuals in these particular situations. Waiving the fees for the documents, that most can't even afford, in the beginning and while being homeless, will remove one more road block out of the way, that will then help pave a smoother path away from homelessness. –Teth Pickens