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To get a job, you need ID and an address

Getting those is more difficult for the homeless than some may think

Posted

One of the keys to escaping homelessness — getting a job — isn’t as easy as it might sound, said Adam Becker, a 33-year-old formerly homeless Denver resident. As he discovered, the steps to getting there can be cyclical if a person lacks crucial items.

“Let’s start with ID,” Becker said. “First, you have to have transportation to get to a place to get the ID and the documentation to be able to back it up.”

Becker had his mother, who lived across the country in Minnesota while he was homeless in states farther west, go to a hospital to get a birth certificate to send him. Then, he needed a Social Security card, and he ended up sending dental records for verification.

“But then, to have an address to put on (a state ID) — that’s a huge setback,” Becker said.

A homeless person would need a place where he or she knows someone who would allow the address to be used. All the while, Becker said, the homeless person still needs to find a place to sleep and food to eat.

“When someone drives by you and says, ‘Get a job, you bum!’, you have no idea what I’m up against to get that job,” Becker said.

Finding a place to store belongings while away at work can be another hurdle, he added. And getting to and from all the necessary places can be taxing in itself.

“Two miles, three miles, that’s an hour walk,” Becker said. And “that’s a rough place to be when you’re working full-time but you’re sleeping on the ground and showering in a sink.”

A few years ago, Becker was walking from the woods to his job in Estes Park as a dishwasher at the Stanley Hotel. Now living in a house in Denver, he works at Porter Place Retirement Community.

For a homeless individual, finding housing could require walking to a library to search listings, walking to a place to look at it, and then getting back to go to sleep and go to work, Becker said.

“It ends up being so much to do,” Becker said.

A program similar to live-in rehabilitation centers, he said, would solve many of these problems — an address to use on an ID and at which to receive money, to shower and use the internet.

It would eliminate much of the unnecessary “back-and-forth” homeless individuals face, Becker said.

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