Stories from the Basement

Stories from the Basement #3

By Donna Clark RN, Director

Have you ever thought about how important it is to have your ID or do you realize what it takes to get one? One of the biggest services we provide is helping people get their ID’s. Let me share a few things with you about our adventures with this service.

To get an ID you need a birth certificate, social security card and two pieces of government mail in the envelope as proof of where you live. That doesn’t sound so hard but; to get a birth certificate you need an ID and to get an ID you need a birth certificate. To get a social security card you need an ID and so the cycle goes. If you are homeless and have no physical address, it is impossible to get an ID. If you get a job, housing, or benefits from social services you need an ID and a birth certificate. It is confusing and frustrating, especially if you have other underlying health issues.

A little over a year ago one of our long term clients came to me and asked if H.O.P.E., Inc. would help him get his birth certificate. He had been born at home, one of 10 children, and was never registered at the local health department. This led to an adventure in detective work and bureaucracy. Initially he thought he was born in North Carolina but we could not find anything that confirmed that. Eventually we found an elderly aunt who told us that he had been born in Virginia.

Virginia is a state that has very rigid rules as to who can purchase a birth certificate and absolutely requires a current ID for the person purchasing the document. We contacted the main office in Richmond and spoke with the director of Vital Records for advice on obtaining a “Delayed Certificate of Birth”. This led us to contacting the Social Security Office and requesting a “Numident Printout” and the US Census Bureau requesting a statement identifying when this child was first counted in the census. The client’s sister volunteered to provide her ID and completed the documents requested by Virginia.

When I first started this article, early September, I was expecting to be able to say that after $108 and 18 months we had his Delayed Certificate of Birth. Monday’s mail provided yet one more form to be filled out by his sister identifying all children born to their Mother. No more fees are required but our success is yet to be felt. Pray that we can get this document for this client so he can receive his ID, housing, and his social security.