By Prem Calvn Prashad
Slightly less than a year after a rocky but ultimately successful rollout, the de Blasio administration announced an extension to the benefits attached to the IDNYC municipal identification card. Existing cardholders will be able to enjoy select perks attached to the card through 2016 and new cardholders will have access to an expanded selection of benefits.
As a municipal ID, IDNYC extends a form of identification to New Yorkers that do not have driver’s licenses or other conventional forms of identification. To date, 670,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the identification. Initial demand had exceeded the city’s expectations and created a backlog.
Though IDNYC helps to establish residency and identification for undocumented persons, ex-convicts and the elderly, the city aims to make the card broadly appealing. To accomplish this, the city paired with cultural institutions, including the Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing Town Hall and the Queens Museum to offer discounted membership and other perks. In addition, the ID allows free admission to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA P.S. 1 in Long Island City.
A complete breakdown of discounted memberships and other benefits is available at the IDNYC website (www.nyc.gov/
Establishing residency and identity requires a combination of conventional and unconventional forms of proof, ranging from U.S. and foreign documents, taxpayer identification numbers and school IDs. Transient and displaced persons can establish residency through a letter issued by a homeless shelter, a social worker, or city agency. A lengthy list of documents acceptable for residency and identification is available online.
Local elected officials and veterans groups lauded IDNYC for including a veterans’ designation to assist veterans with receiving services and local merchant discounts. LGBT advocacy groups praised the card’s flexibility in letting the holder select a gender identity. The card also enables the NYPD to issue a summons in lieu of detention at the local precinct during police stops. Since the rollout, it is now possible to integrate one’s municipal ID with the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Libraries, as well as open a bank account.
Criticism of the program has largely been unfounded, as the municipal ID does not confer legal status or otherwise change the immigration status of the holder. Aside from increased traffic to the city’s cultural institutions, the city is now better able to quantify and serve marginalized persons, be they immigrants, veterans or ex-convicts.
An IDNYC card is valid for five years and there is no fee if one applies for the card before Dec. 31, 2016. One can apply for an appointment online at nyc.gov/