THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED JANUARY 2016
VERIFICATION BY A SOCIAL WORKER THAT YOU ARE STAYING AT A SHELTER - BE IT COLD WEATHER OR A HOUSING PROGRAM SHELTER is ALL IT TAKES TO GET A FREE COPY OF YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE IN CALIFORNIA... OTHER STATES SUCH AS FLORIDA ALSO HAVE THIS KIND OF PROGRAM.
HERE IS A LINK TO AN INFORMATIVE ARTICLE - THE LAW WENT INTO EFFECT JULY 2015 so if you have been homeless and unable to get your birth certificate - try again.
Effective July 1, AB 1733 requires county recorders to issue free birth certificates to any person who demonstrates he or she is homeless. On Jan. 1, the law also will require the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a free original or replacement identification card to anyone who can verify homelessness. The DMV now charges $26 for an original identification card and $8 for individuals that qualify for certain low income public assistance programs.
OUR OLD POST:
If you can, get a head start on ID, TB and HIV tests which will smooth the intake and help them help you.
Some shelters won't take you if you don't have these things done BEFORE YOU DO INTAKE!
Other's will give you some time once they take you in.
Shelters know that homeless are often without papers.
Ask them if they can help you get these papers!
MAIL AND COMMUNICATION PRIVACY ISSUES AT SHELTERS
The biggest obstacle for a street homeless person is not having a mailing address, which is why the shelter address is what you're waiting on. If you've never been homeless before, use your current ID to get a PO Box but remember that government mail can't go there. Check to see if there are any places in your area that provide MAIL services for homeless. Some food banks and temporary shelters do offer you an address or services to help you get your ID, birth certificate, and other paperwork moving!
One possibility is mail to your STORAGE UNIT. ASK, we have heard of it being done.
If you are homeless and are using a friend's mail box, tell any social services you register with that this is the case or they may not believe you are actually homeless. Get a letter from your friend stating that you can use the box but cannot live there. (We know of one intake/shelter that requires you to have a letter from someone who you've been living with stating that they can no longer keep you and they expect you to spend one night on the street! If this is you, spend that night sitting at a bus stop shelter, in particular a bus that runs all night. That means in LA you can't spend the night down in the subway even though it's light, warm, and has security.)
Some shelters have bulk mail and someone on staff is the "mail carrier" who gets to see who you are getting e-mail from. Likewise, some shelters have computers but you can't use them and have confidentiality. Can you use e-mail from another location? (A library?)
YOUR PICTURE ID: A picture ID doesn't always have to be a drivers license. Sometimes it can be a school or gym membership card or a bus pass with your picture on it. If your picture is you and looks like you and is fairly recent (within a year or two) maybe that will work. A passport, even if it's expired should work. DON'T SUBMIT A FAKE ID. Eagle eye case managers are usually smart about this and if you're young looking they're not going to risk taking you in underage, unless they are a shelter or social service that specializes in the under 21 crowd!
OTHER FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION: Say you lost your wallet or got robbed and you now have nothing on you. CALL YOUR DMV and report this right away. Ask for a PRINT OUT that you can use until you get new plastic. Case Managers may be able to give you a letter stating that you are in their program to verify an address of the program and that you need reduced fees. If you are on GR/EBT you can also get a REDUCED fee letter from them. This reduced fee is for a California picture ID, not a license.
One of our friends told the DMV he was living in his van and showed his Social Security check and disability evidence and they gave him time to pay.
GR and other SOCIAL SERVICES THROUGH GOVERNMENT AGENCIES : YOU CAN PICK UP GR-RELATED-MAIL (and no other mail) AT THEIR OFFICE. Shelters often expect you to agree to let them know what income you're getting. IN SOME PLACES GR IS THE FIRST PLACE YOU SHOULD GO IF YOU NEED SHELTER BECAUSE THEY MAY PAY FOR YOUR FIRST TWO WEEKS IN A SHELTER. (This is a one time in your life benefit.)
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2013 : CALIFORNIA GR/EBT IS STARTING A NEW SYSTEM IN WHICH YOU WILL MAIL PAPERWORK IN FOR GR the same 4 times a year, but if you're only getting EBT do the paperwork twice a year. PLUS YOUR ANNUAL PAPERWORK. THEY WILL ALSO EVENTUALLY HAVE AN ON-LINE OPTION.
YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE : Usually used to verify you are who you are for housing and other government funded benefits and the basis for getting other ID's and government benefits. There are fees involved. Important and we know if it's stolen this is the basis for identity theft as well.
TB TEST : Shelters are concerned about the spread of TB in close quarters especially because some or all of the residents have a history of needles for street drugs and having HIV can make getting TB pretty easy. Some require a TB test. Strange but true, we found out that while some expect the test, they don't necessarily expect it to be negative. Positive and in treatment will usually be good enough.
Also we think it is a good idea to have an HIV TEST and present results. Really! There are options for people who have HIV that are not available for all homeless.
COMING UP U.S. CITIZENSHIP