Although Bill No. 126-35, introduced by Senator Mary Torres, is now P.L. 35-32, it won’t be easy for homeless individuals to just seek a Guam ID card.
Tamuning Mayor Louise Rivera, in an interview with Patti Arroyo on NewsTalk K57, said mayors go through a comprehensive and strict verification process to make sure that the homeless people who ask for certification are really who they claim to be.
The mayor was responding to reports that just anyone can ask for a homeless ID and that it would be enough for just someone to vouch that a person is homeless.
But Rivera said it doesn’t work that way. She said that in her mayor’s office, in particular, they interview homeless persons thoroughly, ask where they came from, where they are sleeping now, determine why they are homeless, and ask other pertinent questions, especially if the person has no previous record in GovGuam agencies like the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
In addition, Rivera said they take pictures of the homeless people and go to the village where the homeless person previously resided in order to verify that the person indeed came from there.
“When one person moves from one village to another, they need to register in the new village,” Rivera said.
Earlier during the public hearing for the bill, Department of Revenue Taxation Director Daphne Shimizu said that while she supports the intent of Bill 126, there may be costs involved in verifying the identities of homeless people.
Moreover, Shimizu said the mayors would also have to get involved to verify if homeless residents are residing in their respective villages.
Shimizu assured, though, that if homeless people are already in the DRT system, they can be issued temporary IDs.
In response, Sen. Mary Torres said P.L. 35-32 recognizes how challenging it is for the island’s mayors to verify a person’s homeless status which is why it establishes alternative ways to prove residency through documentation provided by Guam’s social service providers.
“Eighteen states already do this. Some jurisdictions require a shelter agreement. Others permit letters from homeless providers attesting to the applicant’s residential status. Ultimately, P.L. 35-32 leaves that decision to DRT—allowing them to collaborate with Guam’s service community to determine the best fit, based on our infrastructure and population needs. This law makes it easier for our homeless because it establishes an alternative way to prove residency—and that’s why it’s necessary,” Torres said.