Unique ID, debit card access lost without community outreach

By Roxana Amparo, News Editor

RICHMOND — The safety and comfort of the city of Richmond community is said to be established through the Richmond Municipal Identification Card Program.

Richmond’s City Council approved the IDs with the purpose of improving public safety, increasing civic participation and supporting local commerce. In addition, the ID holds an optional prepaid debit card function, which will remain inactive until the cardholder says otherwise.

It was approved through ordinance number 16-11 N.S. amending chapter 2.64, Article II of Richmond’s Municipal Code.

Richmond residents can apply for an ID card at the Richmond Municipal Card Office, which is located at Grace Lutheran Church at 2369 Barrett Ave.

Applicants must submit an identification document for proof, including a U.S. or foreign passport or ID, driver’s license, U.S. permanent resident card, or proof of residency such as a utility bill or recent bank statement.

The IDs are administered by SF Global LLC, a third party vendor hired by the city of Richmond. The initial price of the ID cards will be $15 for adults and $10 for ages 65 and over.

Director of Business Development & Financial Integration for SF Global LLC Paule Cruz Takash said that the purpose of the ID is to provide affordable services to the “unbanked” and “underbanked.”

The unbanked are those who do not qualify for certain services, such as being able to open a bank account or qualify for a license — such as the immigrant community, Takash said.

The underbanked are those citizens that have been denied banking services due to accumulate debt and have been forced to “operate in cash economy.” It is unsafe to have people walking around with cash in danger of assault, she said.

The idea of the IDs started due to an incident in New Haven, Conn. where a Mexican immigrant was robbed and murdered for his money. The incident “created the fire under the city,” Takash said. New Haven was the first city to adopt the card seven years ago.

Although the plan is an outreach to the community, many of the immigrants in the community are unaware of this opportunity because no one has talked to them or they have not received any physical form with the information.

Roberto Hernandez, a day worker/jornalero from Richmond, said he was not aware that the city of Richmond was issuing new IDs but he is interested in applying for one if it will benefit him.

Hernandez spends his days outside of the El Cerrito Home Depot waiting patiently for a job opportunity to come to him. He said the municipal IDs are something he is willing to believe in.

“We are hoping it provides a sense of safety for people,” Richmond Management Analyst LaShonda White said.
Some people from the immigrant community are afraid of sharing their personal information to unfamiliar sources wanting to help them, day worker Rutilio Rivera said.

Many immigrants are afraid to report crime due to their fear of authority.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said they want people to feel “comfortable” enough to register for an ID because their personal information will not be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

“They (immigrants) are a very much important part of our community,” she said, adding that she will continue to promote the municipal ID to the immigrant community.

When making a purchase with the card, there is no charge. There is a $3.99 monthly fee, which can be avoided if 25 purchases are made per month.

It is a “unique thing,” McLaughlin said. Residents can make deposits at local ATMs and get cash back at any regular store with the ID.

Xavier Baker, of the Bay Area Rescue Mission located in Richmond, said that the ID cards are beneficial for the homeless.