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My Client is Homeless

Homeless Under the Bridge

It can be hard for a homeless person to  get a Michigan ID card.  The Secretary of State (SOS) requires people to prove that they live in Michigan. They must have a “residence address”.   The Secretary of State says a "residence address” is the place that is someone’s settled or permanent home, where they usually sleep and keep their personal belongings.   A homeless person may not have this.

 The Secretary of State leaves it up to the local SOS branch manager to decide what papers will be accepted as proof of where someone lives or to ask for more information. Here are some tips that can help your homeless client:


1.       Staying at a Homeless Shelter

If your client stays at a shelter you may be able to use a letter from the shelter. It must be on the shelter’s letterhead.  It must be a shelter that the SOS knows is legitimate.   The letter should not be hand written.  It should be dated no more than 30 days before the date the client requests ID.  The letter should include the phone number of the shelter,  your client’s name,   the shelter’s physical address (NO PO Boxes), and the signature and title of the person from the shelter signing the letter. The letter should say that your client currently lives at the shelter.  

 2.       Staying with a Relative

If your client stays with a relative they can use the bills and expenses of that person as proof of residence.   They must have a way to prove how that person is related to them.   It is not clear how close the relative must be.  It isn’t clear what proof the SOS will accept that someone is related to another person.  

3.       On Parole 

If someone is on parole they can use a letter from the Parole Officer stating where they live, as long as the date of the letter is no more than 30 days old. 

4.       Government Mail is Sent to A Specific Address

If your client gets mail and other papers at a certain address,  that may be accepted as proof of residence.    A post office box, however,   is not enough.  There must be a street address too.    Your client should keep  letters he or she gets at that address,   especially letters written by government agencies such as the Department of Human Services, the Department of Community Health, the Department of Corrections,   the Social Security Administration,   the Veteran’s Administration, courts, etc.     If your client has bills from hospitals or doctors that are sent to this address, those may be accepted as proof too.

5.         Government Records Show the Address

Even if your client does not regularly get mail from the government, he or she may be able to use any government records showing that he or she lives at a certain address.   For example:

  • Court records / Friend of Court Records

  • Voter registration card or records - an ID card is not required to register to vote if your client registers in person.     see How to Register to Vote    A list of county clerk’s offices can be found on the  voter registration application form.

  • School records for either adults or children at that address  (The client may need to show a birth certificate to show how he  or she is related to those children)

  • Military or Veteran’s records

  • Library card

6.  Medical records  

If your client has gotten medical care, the provider (hospital, doctor) should have records showing the client’s address and these may be accepted.   

7.        Staying with a Friend

It is harder to prove residence if the homeless client is living with a friend or partner to whom they are not related by blood or marriage.  The Secretary does not usually accept proof from a friend that the friend pays bills at a particular address.   However, if your client does not have any other proof, you may want to ask if the local office will request an exception.  Your client may want to provide the following:

  • Any other mail or government proof that client lives there

  • A statement from the friend that your client lives there


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