County preps for community ID's


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More than 50 Johnson County residents gathered at the Center for Worker Justice on Tuesday night to learn about the new community-ID program, set to be launched mid-July.

The iniative will make community identification available to those without access to state IDs, including immigrants, seniors, students, and the homeless population.

These groups often have trouble obtaining the paperwork necessary for state IDs because they are less likely to drive or have permanent residences.

“We wanted to update people on where they can get what they need,” said Marcela Hurtado, the president of the Center for Worker Justice.

The meeting room was packed, drawing a crowd ranging from families with children to seniors.

“There were a lot of people here tonight representing different groups — groups of faith, labor workers, Latinos — who will go back into their communities and spread the word,” Hurtado said.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said the IDs will be available at the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, 913 S. Dubuque St., beginning July 13. They will cost $8.

Weipert said applicants must provide alternate proofs of identity and residency such as birth certificates or employment pay stubs in order to receive IDs.

“[Residents’] documents will have to be verified [to get IDs], so they won’t get them that day,” he said. “The cards will get mailed to [residents] in order to verify their address.”

The IDs cannot be used to get into bars, purchase alcohol or tobacco, or register to vote, but will be accepted by law enforcement, banks, and city and county services such as libraries throughout Johnson County, Weipert said.

A wide variety of local businesses will offer discounts to patrons with community identification, including Los Portales, the Iowa Children’s Museum, and Accurate Automotive.

“There are currently around 20 to 30 businesses that are accepting them and offer discounts on services,” Weipert said. “We’re still working with pharmacies to see if they’ll accept [the IDs].”

While many businesses have signed on, many more are still in the works, including some utility companies. The IDs will only be eligible for use in Johnson County, Weipert said.

The Center for Worker Justice has been a major driver for the program over the last three years, and Hurtado said she is pleased it’s finally coming to fruition.

“[Having IDs] will make people feel like they’re part of the community,” she said. “It feels so good to see the program getting started.”

The community-ID program received a lot of support from local government and was unanimously approved in early April by the county Board of Supervisors. It was an easy vote, Supervisor Rod Sullivan said.

“[Without IDs], we have people who can’t open bank accounts or pick their kids up from school,” he said. “We can fix that problem, and it is incumbent upon us to do that.”

The program, the first of its kind in the Midwest and modeled after several similar programs on the Coasts, will make a positive change in the lives of Johnson County people, Sullivan said.

“This is something we’d heard people talking about for a long time, and it seemed like it was time,” he said.

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