UBC law students help Vancouver’s homeless get government ID

Latest homeless count reveals troubling trends
The latest homeless count for Metro Vancouver reveals that many people with no place to live are employed, but still can’t afford shelter. Linda Aylesworth reports.

Anyone who’s ever lost a government-issued ID knows it can be a major pain to replace.

But a group of UBC law students says for homeless people, getting a new ID can be an almost insurmountable barrier.

“Without ID, folks can’t access their basic human rights,” said third year UBC law student Carly Stanhope.

READ MORE: Seniors represent 23% of Metro

Stanhope is a part of a group of four students and two supervisors from UBC’s Allard School of Law volunteering to help the homeless get proper documents.

The group spends every Monday night at the Powell Street Getaway drop-in centre, helping people fill out applications for BC ID cards, health care cards and birth certificates.

Story continues below advertisement

They also offer free bus tickets to help those who need to travel to an ICBC service centre to have their photo taken.

WATCH: Shocking Vancouver homeless numbers

Shocking Vancouver homeless numbers
Shocking Vancouver homeless numbers

For Stanhope, the project is about ensuring people who live on the streets can get easier access to services like medical care, legal help and detox programs.

She said those on the streets often have a hard time keeping ID.

“The folks who live on the street frequently have their belongings stolen while they’re sleeping or accessing services indoors. IDs are frequently thrown away with people’s belongings when they camp in public spaces,” she said.

“If there is a tent left, city workers will also get rid of it.”

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: The rate of homeless Aboriginals in Metro Vancouver is at an all-time high

The Getaway Centre will serve as a mailing address for applications, Stanhope said. And to keep IDs safe, a locked box will also be kept at the Centre.

The group is getting help with some of the administrative costs with a $1,000 grant from VanCity.

Stanhope said the ID clinic, which hosts its first night on Monday, is open to anyone living on the streets, not just those living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.