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Nevada’s homeless people may get free IDs, birth certificates

CARSON CITY — Homeless youth may soon be able to use a student ID to obtain a free state identification card under a bill heard by lawmakers Monday.

Assembly Bill 135, presented by Assemblywoman Cecelia González, D-Las Vegas, would allow homeless youth under the age of the 25 to use a school identification card to prove their legal name and age in order to receive a state ID.

“We can get a birth certificate with relative ease, and then we’re stuck in a loop between trying to get a Social Security card or Nevada ID because both require each other,” said Trevor Macaluso, CEO of Eddy House. “This would help us to kind of close that loop on the Nevada ID side by using existing information at the state and school district to verify that the user is who they say they are.”

The bill would also exempt those individuals from fees and would no longer require proof of a Social Security number to get an identification card.

Under the bill, people experiencing homelessness who are trying to obtain an official or certified copy of their birth certificate would no longer be required to submit a signed affidavit in order to receive the document without charge. They would instead be required to submit a statement under penalty of perjury to get a free copy.

The bill requires the Nevada Housing Crisis Response System to coordinate with the Department of Motor Vehicles to help homeless people who are applying for a state ID card.

Several groups spoke in support of the bill, including Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers, Battle Born Progress, the Clark County School District and the Clark County public defenders’ office.

“Sometimes it seems very little to us, but getting an ID is like a first barrier to getting yourself back into the game of life,” said John Piro, who represents the Clark County public defenders.

The proposed legislation also requires Clark and Washoe Counties to develop a strategic plan to address homelessness between this session and next, a provision that drew objections from Clark County.

But Clark County opposed that provision of the bill. The county began developing a strategic plan to address homelessness in 2018, said Clark County Government Affairs Manager Joanna Jacob.

“This was a very significant effort with public and private partnership, and really was part of our Southern Nevada continuum of care which is required by (the Department of Housing and Urban Development),” Jacob said of the strategic plan. “That’s why we were very, very, very, very lightly opposed on the new mandate or the report just because we have already begun a strategic plan that has been updated.”

Gonzalez said she would work with Clark County to address its concerns.

Nevada DMV spokesman Sean Sever urged lawmakers to delay the bill until after the DMV has finished its efforts to move services online in 2025.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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