NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — For more than a year and a half, city officials and activists have worked to bring municipal identification cards to New Brunswick.
Now, the city is scheduling appointments to get those cards in the hands of residents.
The New Brunswick City ID Program, which is run by the public library, is only issuing municipal ID cards after individual appointments, according to the city. The earliest available meeting date is Sept. 25. Residents may call the library at 732-745-5108 to schedule a sit-down.
Earlier this year, New Brunswick officials said they expected 1,500 people to apply for city ID cards within the first six months of the program. Its anticipated popularity, officials said, is due to its practicality.
“Most of us take for granted being able to identify ourselves, and we do not realize how often we are asked for picture ID,” Bob Belvin, head of the library, said when the City Council approved the program in June. “But for seniors, domestic violence survivors, the homeless and young people, as well as the undocumented, having a convenient method of identification is vital.”
The program allows cardholders to use the ID to access city services and benefits, according to New Brunswick. Each card will feature the individual's name, date of birth and address, along with a photograph and a signature, according to the city.
The cards are available to anyone age 14 years or older who lives in the Hub City. That includes homeless people and undocumented immigrants, according to the city.
Applicants must prove both their identity and residency. That will be done through a point system, which will take into account a number of various documents, from state-issued ID cards and property tax statements to documents from foreign countries. A full list is available above this article, in the photo section.
As reported earlier by TAPinto New Brunswick, the city has devised a way for homeless people to obtain the cards, as well.
A municipal ID costs $20 for adults and $7 for kids, veterans, people with disabilities and senior citizens, according to the city. The program will accept cash and money orders.
But homeless people, victims of domestic violence and people who receive government assistance or whose household income is no more than 15 percent of the federal poverty level may apply for a “hardship exception waiver,” according to the ordinance that established the program.
Activists, especially those who advocate on behalf of undocumented immigrants, have long seen such municipal ID programs as a means to connect often marginalized residents with a city and its services. That argument cropped up in New Brunswick, which has a large population of undocumented immigrants and more homeless people than many other nearby municipalities.
“We think it’s a great step toward making New Brunswick a more fair and welcoming city for everyone,” Cecille de Laurentis, of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch, said when the ordinance was introduced.