Calling it a “gateway to city services,” Mayor de Blasio launched the city’s municipal identification card program Monday morning at the Flushing Library.
Although all New Yorkers age 14 or over are eligible to apply, the program is geared toward illegal immigrants and the homeless, who may not now have proper identification. It will allow those people without driver’s licenses to use the ID card when stopped by police or for entering city buildings, hospitals and schools.
As incentive, the cards will provide access to libraries throughout the city, one-year memberships in cultural institutions and will be considered valid as primary ID for opening bank or credit union accounts at more than 10 financial institutions.
“This card represents who we are: New Yorkers who value equality, opportunity and diversity,” the mayor said. “Today we are launching the most ambitious, dynamic and useful municipal ID program in the country, which will have a real and tangible impact on the lives of all New Yorkers.”
Three enrollment centers are in Queens, at the Flushing Library, at 41-17 Main St.; the Jamaica Library, at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., and Make the Road New York, at 92-10 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights.
Persons applying need proof of identity and residency. Examples of identity proof include passports and birth certificates. For residency requirements, documents include driver’s licenses, utility bills, a current lease and income tax statements.
Applications are available at the enrollment centers and online at nyc.gov/idnyc. They must be submitted to one of the centers and when approved, the ID will be mailed. The city announced Wednesday that because of demand, appointments to apply will be required. They can be made by calling 311 or going to the IDNYC website, above.
Sami Shumays, deputy director at Flushing Town Hall, one of the participating cultural institutions, said that membership is not automatic with an ID card. “They will have to apply to the cultural institution. They can come to the box office or sign up with us online.”
Shumays does not believe the program will discourage paying memberships. “We offer 10 to 15 percent discounts on performing arts programs,” he said. “We hope the program will generate new members who will still be paying for tickets and we don’t expect to lose money on this.”
Shumays noted that there is a provision in the program that if people are already members of a cultural institution, they can’t get new free membership. “It protects us,” he said.
Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director, offered the following prepared statement: “This is extremely meaningful to Flushing Town Hall, where we provide global arts to a global community in one of the most diverse boroughs, and neighborhoods, in the city, state and nation. Our small staff represents 25 different cultures, and our audiences span all ages, ethnicities, races and cultures.”
Susan Lacerte, executive director of the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, was very enthusiastic about the ID plan. “We view the identification program as win, win, win. Win for the people who get to know more of what this great green apple has to offer,” she said.
“Win for the city and all of us having success and more people with documents that will open up so many doors. It’s also a win for QBG and all the culturals who will have more visitors.”
Other Queens institutions participating in the program are the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, MoMA PS 1, Museum of the Moving Image, New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum and Queens Theatre in the Park.
Another benefit of the ID is that it will be added onto the city’s prescription drug discount card, which gives holders up to 50 percent off most prescriptions.
Other perks include discounts on movie tickets, Broadway shows and sporting events; a 10 percent discount on city Parks recreation center membership for adults; a 20 percent discount on family memberships at city YMCAs; a 5 percent discount at Food Bazaar supermarkets weekdays; and a 25 percent discount on New York Pass, which gives access to 83 tourist attractions.
Officials pointed out that the city will protect the confidentiality of all card applications and will not ask people about their immigration status.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who was the card’s main sponsor in the Council where it was approved last June, said in a prepared statement: “This is an exciting day, because today we are saying that all New Yorkers, regardless of gender identity, immigration status, homelessness, or other identifiers, are an important part of our city.”
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