To ensure that all residents of Washtenaw County have meaningful access to a government-issued ID that validates their identity and residency.
The Washtenaw ID is a county-wide photo identification card created with the purpose of addressing a pressing human rights issue in our community – the lack of secure and reliable identification of approximately 42,000 residents of Washtenaw County. Equating to approximately 11% of the general public, these U.S. Citizens, which disproportionately represent stigmatized populations, run into a variety of consistent and significant daily barriers.
Not having an ID makes the simple daily things that we all do, impossible: You cannot prove your identity to law enforcement, cash a check, sign a lease or even check out a book from the library.
Lack of identification is not just a problem affecting the undocumented community. Older adults, individuals with mental illness, those who are homeless, transgender folks and those of low socioeconomic status, all have been marginalized by state and federal identification systems that result in an accurate photo ID being inaccessible to them.
The County ID is a product of a collaborative effort of community representatives, advocates, law enforcement, county government staff and county elected officials. Beginning in 2012, these groups formed a public/private partnership, the Washtenaw ID Task Force, aiming to assist marginalized populations in gaining meaningful access to identification. In 2014, the ID Project was successfully voted upon by the County Board of Commissioners to verify the identification of County residents and issue ID Cards through the Office of the County Clerk. Here, applicants are able to receive their County ID’s upon proving both their identity and residency in Washtenaw County.
The Washtenaw ID Project works on behalf the County Board of Commissioners to advocate for use and acceptance of the ID Card in the community. The ID Project organizes outreach campaigns to businesses, schools, marginalized communities, while also working to defeat stigma. To do so, the ID Project also strives to recruit a strong system of allies in the community to combat re-stigmatization of ID holders.
Synod Community Services served as the lead advocacy organization in partnering with the government of Washtenaw County in forming the ID Task Force. Synod has developed an ID Support Clinic that will provide outreach to heighten awareness about the ID Program and provide essential support services for individuals that will need assistance in obtaining the County ID card. Synod serves as the fiduciary for the ID scholarship fund, ID Support Clinic and the entire Washtenaw ID Project.