Pro Bono law students help the homeless get their IDs

Law students are helping homeless people who have lost their ID obtain new issues.

University Of Windsor law students help homeless obtain ID

A law student helps John Paul Gavin with the paper work needed to obtain a birth certificate from Alberta. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

Law students at the University of Windsor began helping homeless people obtain government issued identification Wednesday night at the Downtown Mission.

The students are part of a charitable organization called Pro Bono Students Canada, University of Windsor chapter, who are helping the homeless who don't have pieces of ID - such as health cards or birth certificates.

The ID has either been lost or stolen.

John Paul Gavin is originally from Calgary. His ID was stolen some time ago. He's grateful for the service.

"I've been waiting for this for a while. I can't even get a job without being able to prove who I am," said Gavin, who was first to seek the service.

Gavin will have to wait for a couple of months while the students navigate the red-tape in Alberta to get him his birth certificate.

"Just anecdotally we hear about it all the time," said Adam Vasey, director of advocacy, outreach and education at the mission. "It's a huge concern that people don't have any forms of identification. That's a huge barrier for accessing all different kinds of services and benefits."

Stephen Marentette is a local lawyer who is helping out the students.

He says if someone doesn't have any ID and they are trying to get documentation in Ontario, the person has to find someone who has known them for two years to vouch for them.

But if the person doesn't know their date of birth it's a problem.

"If somebody has a mental health issue that they wouldn't know that information that would certainly be a lot more difficult, and I wouldn't know what to do at that point. We haven't come across that," said Marentette.
The students will be at the mission once a week until December.

Dale Molnar