A nanny from Trinidad and Tobago reached out to Nicole Kligerman, director of the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance, last Thursday, the day Philadelphia officially began offering its municipal IDs to residents, because she needed help. She needed help making an appointment online to get an ID.
That evening, when Kligerman checked the PHL City ID program web page, appointments at City Hall were booked until April 23. When she looked the next morning, the earliest slot was May 3.
By Tuesday afternoon, residents had to wait until mid-June for appointments.
On Wednesday, a message on the website said all time slots at City Hall were full for now. Residents can try their luck waiting in line without an appointment during walk-in hours, which are held on Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It really speaks to the demand, which is amazing," Kligerman said. “I have members in deep Southwest Philly and the Far Northeast who know about this and are coming to City Hall to get it, and are excited about their appointments in June.”
Amy Eusebio, director of the municipal ID program, said the city knew there was a need, but “the demand has exceeded our expectations.”
The city has distributed more than 860 IDs to the public, in addition to nearly 200 to city employees, since a soft launch of the program in late March. The city anticipated issuing 10,000 cards this first year.
Philadelphia’s IDs cannot be used to legally drive, travel, or vote. Municipal ID cards — offered in a couple of dozen cities and counties across the country — are meant as a form of identification for people who cannot easily get state-issued IDs due to immigration status, financial situation, or other factors.
Philadelphia residents can use PHL City IDs as identification to enter schools and city buildings; apply for jobs; access city programs and services; and prove their identity to law enforcement officials within city limits. People with addictions can use the IDs to get medical assisted treatment. The cards also offer deals, such as discounted Phillies tickets to selected games and discounted museum tickets. The IDs also can double as city library cards.
People who have just been released from prison and others looking for a step toward getting copies of their birth certificates or Social Security cards are among those who now have freshly printed city IDs. Residents have come speaking Polish, Cantonese, Portuguese, and Spanish, among other languages.
The city has not yet decided when it will reopen appointments for late June and beyond. When it does, residents either can call 311 or claim a spot online at www.getphlcityid.com. The city also is working to set up mobile printing events where residents can get IDs in their neighborhoods. One of them will be at Mifflin Square Park at an 11 a.m. community event on April 27 hosted by the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition.
Philadelphia Youth Network is gearing up now to match thousands of young people ages 12 to 24 with summer jobs, internships, career shadowing, and service learning — opportunities that begin in late June and early July.
“We will be able to accept the ID card as a way for them to provide identification," said Stephanie Gambone, the organization’s executive vice president. "I think that’s really going to help young people as they prepare for summer.”
Carrying around a passport for identification is common among members of the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance, including Betania Shephard, a native of the Dominican Republic. But passports are bulky and misplacing one can be devastating.
"I do have an ID from my country, but sometimes people look at it weird and don’t think it’s a valid ID,” Shephard said through an interpreter. Her husband is from Mexico and has a Mexican consulate ID, but many places don’t accept that either, she said.
The city ID, Kligerman said, "provides a much easier mechanism to navigate the basic needs of city life.”
Shephard got her PHL City ID last Thursday. This week, Shephard, a cleaner, used it to enter City Hall and testify before City Council to advocate for domestic workers’ rights.