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No driver's license? Kansas City will issue its own photo IDs to help residents get services

 A mockup of a Fountain Card is blue, with Kansas City over the fountain logo in the upper left corner. FOUNTAIN CARD is across the top, with an ID number below. The rest of the ID features a photo taking up the left side, with the right containing name, address, date of birth, eye color, height, gender and expiration date. It has a smaller, black and white version of the photo in the bottom right corner.
Main photo courtesy Kansas City Health Department, background photo by Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A health department mockup of the Fountain Card is similar to many other forms of ID, with a photo and information about the cardholder's name, address and physical appearance.

The Fountain Card will let people who have trouble getting state and federal identification access water services, library cards, prescription drug discounts and other programs. Residents will just need to show proof of their identity and residency.

Kansas City residents can now obtain a Fountain Card, a municipal ID that will open the doors to certain city services that usually require traditional forms of identification like a driver’s license or state ID.

The Kansas City Council voted Thursday 10-1 to implement the program. Councilwoman Heather Hall was the only no vote.

The ID would be free for all ages and administered by the Kansas City Health Department. Like a U.S. passport, the Fountain Card will be valid for 10 years for adults and five years for minors. Cardholders can use it to access water services, prescription drug discounts, community centers and library cards. It can also be used to open a bank account at WeDevelopment Credit Union in Kansas City.

“This can be particularly impactful for people who may not have a driver's license, including people under the age of 16, people who do not drive or people who move to Kansas City,” said Anne Jordan, policy director with Mayor Quinton Lucas’s office.

Jordan added that housing the Fountain Card program in the Health Department will also help people getting other forms of identification, like a birth certificate.

Officials say accessing a Fountain Card will be easier than getting a driver's license or other form of state identification. Applicants will need to show proof of identification and proof of residency in Kansas City and fill out an application for a Fountain Card.

Accepted forms of identification — outside of a driver’s license, passport or state ID — include a student ID, work ID, title certificates showing ownership of property, Medicare or Medicaid documents, a utility bill or paperwork from a shelter that shows the applicant’s name. Proof of residency can come from a credit card bill, life insurance policy, copy of a lease, property tax statement or documents from a social services organization.

Other U.S. cities have similar municipal ID programs in place. Some are designed to cater specifically to undocumented immigrants or people experiencing homelessness.

The program will cost nearly $252,000. Funds will come from the city’s Health Levy Fund.

Kansas City resident Celia Ruiz testified in support of the Fountain Card.

“I've been involved in the community for about 30 years and I could tell you countless stories of how some version of the Fountain Card could have helped families and individuals in the city,” Ruiz said. “The Fountain Card would not only benefit the card holder, but the children and individuals in households tied to that card holder.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas co-sponsored the legislation with Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw.

“A lot of times people spend years kind of out of opportunities trying to catch up,” Lucas said. “This will be good for all of our residents.”

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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