Ruiz-Madden Bills Focused On Helping the Homeless Advance

TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Fred H. Madden focusing on helping the homeless in New Jersey cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.

“Residents may need identification cards to access various services, from health care to housing,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Making a birth certificate or an ID card available to homeless residents free of charge is a step we can take to aid them in their effort to utilize the resources available in the state that can help to improve their quality of life.”

“Those who are homeless may not have the ability to pay for an identification card or a copy of a birth certificate, which could potentially prevent them from getting the critical services they need. This is a small way we can help those who have fallen on hard times and it’s the right thing to do,” said Senator Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden).

The first bill, S-2350, allows a homeless person to obtain, duplicate, or renew a non-driver identification card without paying fees to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).  In order for the fee to be waived, the bill requires a homeless person to submit proof of temporary residence through a social worker or the coordinator of an emergency shelter for the homeless where the person is temporarily residing.

Currently, residents who are 14 years of age and older may apply to the MVC for a non-driver identification card, for a fee of $24.  The card is issued solely for the purpose of providing identification and is not a license to drive.

The second bill, S-2351 would permit homeless people to obtain free certified copies of their birth certificates by submitting a request for the certificate to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics through a social worker or through the coordinator of the emergency shelter for the homeless where the person is temporarily residing.

The bill would also amend current law to waive any fee associated with attaining a certified copy of a birth certificate.

Both pieces of legislation cleared the committee 13-0 and will head to the full Senate for further consideration.