Local ID Program Has "Exceeded Expectations," Kalamazoo County Report Finds

Mar 19, 2019

People line up to get a Kalamazoo County ID on the program's first official day in May 2018.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

As Kalamazoo County’s identification program approaches its first birthday, 1755 people have signed up for a card - a total far ahead of what the ID Advisory Board had anticipated, says Chair Francisco Villegas.

Villegas gave a report on the state of the ID program to the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday.

As Villegas told Commissioners, the program is intended to make sure that all Kalamazoo County residents have access to identification. Not everyone can get the papers needed for a state ID, but many essential services - from banking to picking up a prescription - require people to identify themselves.

"We've had a number of people, and I hope most of you have a chance to spend some time down at the ID office, who upon grabbing the ID hold it ever so carefully, because of what it's going to allow them to do. We've had people coming in because they were ready to sign a lease, because they were homeless and they were finally going to have a place for their children.

"We've had people coming in with a job interview just after they would get the ID, and this was the last piece of documentation that they needed," he said.

While Villegas said that the Advisory Board considers the program to be a "major success" overall, he added that the county would like to see more participation from youth under 18, the elderly and veterans. He said an ad campaign, paid for with private money, could help get the word out. So could a mobile registration unit and partnering with other service agencies.

Villegas also suggested lowering the age at which a resident can get an ID from 14 to 10 and accepting a greater range of documents as proof of identity.

Villegas says the county hopes to reach the 2000 mark on IDs issued by the end of the year.