The Washtenaw ID Project: A Government-Issued ID Coalition Working Toward Social, Economic, and Racial Justice and Health Equity.Health Educ Behav. 2019 10; 46(1_suppl):53S-61S.HE
Introduction. The policing of identities through policies that restrict access to IDs issued by U.S. governmental entities disparately affects communities of color; communities who identify as low-income, immigrant, older, and/or transgender; and community members who experience chronic mental illness, housing instability, or incarceration. Yet government-issued IDs are increasingly needed to access health-promoting resources such as housing, banking, social services, and health care, and in interactions with law enforcement. Methods. Since 2012, the Washtenaw ID Project's coalition-building process has involved communities affected by restrictive ID policies, advocates, and institutional stakeholders to enact community and systems change regarding inequities in government-issued IDs. We discuss the coalition-building process that culminated in the implementation of a photo ID issued by Washtenaw County government as a policy change strategy. We also highlight the community-academic research partnership evaluating the effectiveness of the Washtenaw ID in order to ensure equity in Washtenaw ID access and acceptance. Results. In 2015, 77% of Washtenaw ID holders reported having no other locally accepted ID. At follow-up, Washtenaw ID holders reported favorable Washtenaw ID acceptance rates in several domains (e.g., health care, school), but not when accessing banking services and housing. Additionally, community discussions suggested racial inequities in carding and ID acceptance. We discuss next steps for policy improvement to ensure equitable impact of the ID. Conclusions. Without national policy reform instating access to government-issued IDs for all, the social movement to establish local IDs may improve access to health-related resources contingent on having an ID. Careful attention must be paid to community organizing processes, policy implementation, and evaluation to ensure equity.