St. Louis University outreach program aids the homeless in getting ID’s

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – A St. Louis University outreach group is taking a swipe at an issue affecting the poor and homeless that you might have never thought of.  The work being done at St. Francis Xavier College Church focuses on the documentation so many people don’t have and desperately need.

Keith Hall, Sr. arrived at the church Tuesday morning on his bicycle.  Many of his worldly possessions were in the two plastic bags he carried with him.  Hall entered the church basement hoping for basic documents that might help change his life.

“It’s like you’re walking in circles,” he said.  “You’re walking in circles trying to figure out who can help you.  So I thank God for this church and the organization.”

Hall had an ID until he lost his wallet.  Such an event is a hassle for most, but a near tragedy for a homeless man.

“I just threw my hands up and said oh God, what’s next?  Help me please!  Help me Jesus!”

The program they run helps the homeless and poor get things like birth certificates and state identification cards.  Not having that documentation can close the door to the already scarce amount of help that’s out there.

“There’s shelters that don’t let you in without an ID,” program coordinator Christine Dragonette said. “You really can’t access basic needs.  You really can be shut out without an ID because really almost every necessity in the community requires some sort of proof of who you are.”

It’s not just the homeless that have a problem.  Anthony King was there facing a roadblock of a different sort.

“I’m starting a job next week and I need an ID to start working,” he said.

King’s state identification card had gone through the wash a few times, and key numbers are unreadable.  It’s something this simple that was going to stop his new employment.  Also, he’s living life on a tight budget, part of which he can’t get to without that identification.

“You can’t cash your check without an ID; you can’t swipe your debit or credit card without an ID.”

The program helps about four thousand people each year get forms that will allow them to apply for what they need, along with instructions on where to take or send them.  It can take months sometimes to get hard to find out of state documents, but they work with clients as long as it takes to get the job done.

“We really see ourselves as a gateway to all the other resources and necessities that people need in the community,” Dragonette said.

For people like Hall, it can be a step toward finding a permanent home.

“I can apply for a job now.  You’ve got to have some kind of ID even to fill out an application or to go on an interview to work.”

For more information on the program, go here:  http://www.slu.edu/college-church/social-ministry/direct-service/outreach-program