Synod Community Services CEO advocates for I.D. Project

We are proud of the work on the Washtenaw County ID Program that Synod’s CEO, Keta Cowan, has been doing for the last two years. Here’s an article that outlines the presentation given to the Ypsilanti City Council that unanimously voted to support the institution of a county-wide photo ID card that would benefit thousands in our community.

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Synod Community Services CEO advocates for I.D. Project

October 15, 2014
Written by Allie Tomason
The Eastern Echo

Keta J. Cowan, CEO of Synod Community Services, gave a presentation to Ypsilanti city council members on Oct. 7, advocating for the Washtenaw County I.D. Project.

The project was designed to bring residents who lack identification cards out of the shadows.

“It is estimated that 11 percent of all residents in Washtenaw County lack proof of who they are,” she said.

That includes 18 percent of citizens over the age of 65, 4-6,000 (estimated) undocumented immigrants, 25 percent of African-Americans, 20 percent of Asian- Americans and 19 percent of Latino-Americans, according to the Washtenaw I.D. Task Force.

Cowan said that lack of identification does not only affect undocumented immigrants, but homeless people, those with mental illness, the transgender community and low socioeconomic status individuals as well.

“The state I.D. card eligibility criteria excludes a substantial amount of people,” Cowan said. “One of the goals of the I.D. Task Force is to determine how we could come to know who lives in the county. In order to provide services, we need to know what the needs are.”

The Real I.D. Act of 2005 established more stringent criteria in order to obtain proof of identification and eliminated a number of exclusions and exceptions that the Secretary of State once made, such as a name being spelled differently on the birth certificate than it is on the social security card.

“There are a number of people, particularly elderly African-Americans, who have never had birth certificates or whose births were registered at hospitals that have been closed,” Cowan said. “Those records are, simply, lost. Without that foundation access to the state I.D. card isn’t possible.”

The task force has designed an identification card that looks similar to the current Michigan driver’s license, with the intended purpose of enabling residents to fully participate in civic life.

“We designed it to look as official as possible,” Cowan said. “But it has not been proposed to the state, yet.”

The council unanimously carried a motion to support its approval.


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