(April 23, 2015) Today, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced plans for a municipal identification program that would facilitate access to city services, programs and benefits for all Hartford residents, regardless of race, age, gender, arrest or conviction record, citizenship status or sexual orientation. A Hartford photo identification card allows residents to apply for services such as supplemental nutritional programs, access to the City’s health clinic which is free for the uninsured, food vendor licenses, as well as access to ancillary benefits such as opening bank accounts and applying for housing and employment. Hartford will be one of several cities across the nation to implement a municipal identification program including New York City, San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut.
To obtain the identification card, proof of identity must be established using a U.S. or foreign passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, military identification card, visa or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, among other documents. The documents used to establish identity would have to be current or expired for no more than five years. Applicants must also establish proof of residency through a utility bill, property lease, pay stub, tax refund, or written verification from a homeless shelter, hospital, clinic or social services agency, among other documents. A proposed charge of $15 for adults and $10 for ages 17 and younger would apply per card. An ordinance establishing the program goes before the Hartford City Council on Monday and is scheduled to go to a public hearing May 18, with the program estimated to begin in late September.
“Certain basic needs, like banking and housing, are not easily accessible to everyone and this program can help change that. We are all better off when our neighbors are able to access basic services,” said Mayor Segarra. “A photo ID can serve as a stepping stone for the homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals who are looking for a new start. It can also help undocumented immigrants become more active members of their communities. A city-issued photo ID is intended to give peace of mind, improve the quality of life for all residents, provide access to opportunity, enhance public safety and instill a sense of unity and pride in our Capital City.”
“It’s an opportunity for Hartford residents to produce photo identification to assist them in job searching. It will affirm residency for individuals who want to participate in the Jobs for Hartford program accessible only to Hartford residents,” said Councilwoman Cynthia R. Jennings.
“A municipal ID card will allow people to participate in the local economy, provide identification when needed, and show that they’re part of the greater community,” said City Councilman Kenneth H. Kennedy, Jr. “Allowing children to participate is also an important component of this program, as having a photo ID can be an effective tool in keeping children safe.”
A Hartford City ID would offer an optional debit function and the cost of the program would be covered primarily through transaction fees. All City of Hartford agencies and officers could accept the Hartford City ID as proof of identity and residency. Per the ordinance, the City would not retain copies of records collected from residents during the application process and will not disclose personal information gathered from residents to any public or private entity or individual, including federal, state or city immigration or law enforcement entities unless required to do so by federal or state law.
Many community leaders representing a wide range of agencies and organizations contributed input while the proposal was being developed and have expressed support for the program.
Stephen Glassman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Connecticut said, “Our friends, families and neighbors here in Hartford often face a number of difficulties securing identification. The inability to provide an ID can hinder their willingness to report crimes and stand up for their own basic rights. This kind of program could provide a big step toward protecting the rights of hard working people who improve our lives in Hartford.”
Peggy Buchanan, President of the Greater Hartford Central Labor Council said, "The labor movement supports municipal IDs because it embraces a basic principal that we hold dear - that communities are stronger when they unite together, supporting those who feel the most vulnerable, the most insecure and the least powerful. Municipal IDs are a positive expression of a community united together in a way that benefits everyone."
“The implementation of a Municipal ID Card program by the City of Hartford is a huge step towards ensuring that all residents of the city have proper access to all of the resources that the city has to offer. Hartford is made up of many different people, of varying origins, who contribute to its economic, cultural and political fabric. These people, as long as they meet the requirements of establishing identity and residency, should be able to utilize the card and enjoy the benefits of the library, accessing the bank or to obtain a lease. If such residents are willing to bear the expense of the ID and there is no cost to the City, then this is a no-brainer. Hartford is on the right track here,” said Nicone Gordon, President, West Indian Social Club of Hartford, Inc.
“We believe a municipal identification card program will significantly improve access to citywide resources and services, including access to such important institutions as banks and other businesses; thus improving all residents’ access to the mainstream economy,” said Leticia Cotto and Carlos Espinoza, co-chairs of the Commission of Refugee and Immigrant Affairs. “As a city commission responsible for providing a means for refugee and immigrant voices to be heard and understood, as well as advising and informing the City government about the needs and status of the refugee and immigrant communities, we are eager to see many more forward-thinking and progressive social and public policies coming from our Hartford City government.”
"A city as diverse and welcoming as Hartford surely can provide municipal IDs to all residents,” said Juan Hernández Connecticut Director of 32BJ. “The men and women who come here to work for the American dream shouldn't have to face further obstacles to put food on the table for their families. This is the right thing to do.”
“People experiencing homelessness, domestic violence victims, and transgendered individuals often face great challenges accessing community services, housing, and banking systems,” said Matt Morgan, Executive Director of Journey Home, a nonprofit working to end homelessness in Greater Hartford. “A municipal ID with policies that support these marginalized populations would be a great step in the right direction to ensure their safety, access to housing and employment, and affirmation of their gender identity.”
“All too often people experiencing homelessness have little to no identification when coming to a shelter. The ongoing issue of not having any identification is an obstacle to finding employment, housing and other services. The vast majority of the homeless who enter the shelter carry only a scant amount of belongings and any move forward is a positive one,” said Brian Baker, Assistant Director at South Park Inn.
“The State of Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (APAAC) greatly appreciates the City of Hartford’s municipal ID card. We have high hopes that this program will enable underserved populations to access crucial services, such as banking, and also provide all city residents with various privileges and benefits. Most importantly, all city residents should be able to acquire proper identification regardless of socioeconomic or political status, national origin, or expression of identity. We look forward to a successful roll-out and continued enhancement of the City of Hartford Municipal ID card,” said Alok Bhatt, of the APAAC.
"We are excited that the City Council will be considering the creation of a Municipal ID Program in the City of Hartford. Municipal IDs unite communities and foster a sense of belonging" said Ana María Rivera Forastieri, Political Director at the Working Families Organization. "For groups that have long been disenfranchised, it sends the message that they are part of a community that recognizes their humanity."
“Our clients benefit highly through a sense of community involvement and pride. Clients will be able to access much needed services for themselves and their families without fear. Their growth in confidence will flourish and this increased knowledge will foster confidence and newly found empowerment, causing a ripple effect through the communities in which they reside. The more individuals who are identified with their municipal IDs, the easier it will be to combat social concerns and implement more cost effective policies,” Judith Gough, Director of Migration & Refugee Services at Catholic Charities.
“Library staff and governing bodies have a public and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the community have the information they need to communicate and function successfully in a democratic society, which is at the core of our mission,” said Matthew K. Poland, chief executive office of Hartford Public Library. “A City of Hartford Municipal ID Program will foster the confidence of all Hartford residents in their ability to secure the basic resources to build a successful future – equal access to employment opportunities, education, health, financial and legal services. We look forward to welcoming and assisting municipal ID cardholders in search of these free resources and more, and to utilizing this new form of identification to enroll all who wish to become Library customers.”