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Securing an ID should not pose yet another barrier

Sean P. Murphy’s column “Public buildings, but not for all of the public” (The Fine Print, Page A1, Dec. 18) highlights the barriers faced by people who are unable, for reasons financial or otherwise, to obtain official identification documents. These barriers extend even beyond access to public buildings; for people experiencing homelessness and others without the means to secure IDs, accessing housing and services can be incredibly challenging.

Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler and Representative Kay Khan are the lead sponsors of An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families. These bills, championed by the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, would create a process for people who are homeless or otherwise unable to meet the established criteria to apply for a Massachusetts identification card and have the fee waived. It is important that all of us, regardless of financial circumstances, have the ability to access housing, services, and the public spaces where decisions are made.


Joe Finn
President and executive director
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance

Officials should be fostering community engagement

At a time when many people fear that the federal government is increasingly unaccountable and inaccessible, our local and state officials have a responsibility to foster community engagement and inclusion. It is shameful that our state government is imposing financial and logistical burdens that limit access to buildings hosting public hearings and meetings.

Charging $65 for a state identification card to enter a public building is morally reprehensible. It produces a chilling effect on public engagement and political participation. It’s also discriminatory: The burden of acquiring a state ID disproportionately falls on marginalized communities and vulnerable populations, including low-income people, minorities, the elderly, and those with disabilities. The state is effectively shutting them out. We all need, and deserve, more access, not less. Let’s keep public doors open for all.

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal
Executive director

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice