Pull out your ID. Take a look at it. I bet you are critical about the picture; would you really like it better if you could have smiled? Now embrace your ID. That’s right, hold it up to your cheek, gaze at it longingly, and truly appreciate it because most of you take it for granted. Without a valid picture ID you cannot get proof of your social security number or request a copy of your birth certificate. Paradoxically, both are required initially to get an Indiana ID card. Without an ID you cannot cash a check, or apply for work, benefits, or housing.
Now toss out that ID with the undesirable photo (it doesn’t look like you anyway) and imagine you are homeless with no transportation. When you finally get to one of the three local Bureaus located on the edges of town you will be told that you need two formal proofs of an address that you do not have. Factor in the depression and anxiety that is common to these situations or even pathological which is often the case, and you can begin to appreciate the mountain many of our homeless are standing at the base of.
As a member of Aurora’s Homeless Outreach Team I have stood alongside many facing these barriers. Thankfully, collaboration between Aurora and health departments, the BMV, medical care providers, and SSA have helped clear a narrow path around the obstacles to attaining much needed identifications. Helping a person hold in their hand an ID they previously believed unattainable is one of many ways members of the outreach team build report with clients and often the first step to increasing their income, supports and eventually housing.
So remember to get your ID back out of the trash, and I hope you will look more fondly upon this often overlooked and under-appreciated photo, it probably looks much better than you think!
Natasha Goodge served as an Aurora intern while completing her BSW at USI in 2006. Upon completion she began working as a social work case manager at Echo Community Health’s homeless health clinic. She has since completed her MSW and left ECHO to complete an internship with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Natasha received her LSW in 2011 and became a Case Coordinator of Aurora’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) in 2012.