The following is a release from the office of State Senator Cindy Friedman:
On Friday, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to unanimously pass legislation to make state identification more accessible to people experiencing homelessness, as well as legislation to allow adoption by close relatives, which is currently prohibited under state law.
“These bills both work to address some of the biggest hurdles to normalcy that struggling families in the Commonwealth face,” stated Senator Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Lack of access to housing should not preclude residents from receiving valid identification and families trying to stay united should not face undue burdens from archaic laws. I was proud to support both bills, and hope that they will be signed into law during this session.”
Currently, a person experiencing homelessness who wishes to obtain a Massachusetts identification (ID) card are faced with prohibitive fees and documentation requirements, including providing proof of a residence that they may not have. An Act to provide identification to youth and adults experiencing homelessness seeks to remedy these burdens by waiving fees for individuals experiencing homelessness. Furthermore, the bill would allow such an ID applicant to meet the proof of residency requirement by presenting documentation that is from an entity providing services in the Commonwealth, such as a homeless shelter, or that shows that the applicant is receiving services provided by the Commonwealth.
Identification cards are necessary for applying to jobs, enrolling in school, interacting with law enforcement, accessing government buildings, opening financial accounts, and many more basic services that many take for granted. The inability to receive an ID prevents many individuals experiencing homelessness from accessing basic services and has been linked to a cycle of poverty.
The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday also addressed the issue of legal adoption of a young person by close relatives of an adoptee. An Act relative to expanding access to adoption would allow an individual to adopt a younger individual if they are that individual’s brother, sister, uncle, or aunt. Currently, Massachusetts is one of only two states that prohibits adoption by close relatives. This legislation would allow for families to stay together ensuring a stable home environment which is a necessary component for development as well as physical and emotional health.
Both bills now move on to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.