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Homeless youth would have easier time getting ID under approved bill

Homeless youth and young adults could have an easier time obtaining identification cards, which are often crucial for getting a job, enrolling in school or applying for public assistance.

HF162, sponsored by Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood), would reduce barriers that homeless youth and young adults face in obtaining birth certificates, which are often used to obtain ID.

The bill, based on recommendations from three state agencies, would also waive fees for homeless youth to obtain birth records and IDs and would make General Fund dollars available for their issuance.

It was unanimously approved by the House Preventing Homelessness Division Wednesday and referred to the House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. It has no Senate companion.

Approximately 6,000 children and adults age 24 and younger, including 2,500 children 17 and younger, are homeless each night in Minnesota, according to Wilder Research.

Many homeless youth face challenges in obtaining an ID, according to a National Network for Youth report, because they don't have relationships with parents or guardians, whose consent can be needed.

They might also lack access to social security cards, birth certificates or past government-issued ID cards needed to obtain a current ID.

Fischer's bill would allow homeless youth and young adults to obtain a birth certificate if they have a statement from a school staff member or qualifying human service agency employee verifying their homelessness status.

Those birth certificates would be valid for sixth months, though a youth could renew one by exchanging it with the state registrar or local issuance office. State agencies say the provision could help reduce fraud.

The bill would allow homeless children ages 16 and younger who were born out of wedlock to obtain birth certificates. Current state law bars this.

Homeless youth would be able to obtain an ID card by applying with the birth certificate and the statement from the school or service agency employee.

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