On July 10, 2014, the New York City identification bill was signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said before the council voted on the measure, “It sends a simple and clear message that we are a city that believes in including everyone. We don’t accept that some people can be left out because of their immigration status, how they identify their gender or whether they may be homeless.”
The Municipal ID program offers a photo identification card for ALL residents of New York City. The card, which be available on January 1, 2015, will be free for the first year. The Municipal ID application site locations will be announced before January 2015. To receive the card, individuals must present proof of their identity and proof of residency. Under the program, individuals may use several different types of documents as proof. The photo IDs will display the holder’s name, birth date, address and -- at the cardholder’s option -- a self-designated gender.
ID cardholders will receive a series of benefits when the program begins in 2015. These benefits will include free tickets or discounts – most of them equivalent to a basic one-year membership - at 33 of the city’s leading museums, zoos, concert halls and botanical gardens, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Bronx Zoo. Officials have also hinted that the cards will eventually provide discounts at movie theaters and more commercial entertainment venues. The city states that more details regarding the benefits associated with the Municipal ID card will be made available prior to the January 2015 program launch.
Similar cards have been created in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut. New York’s program would be the largest in the U.S., costing $8.4 million when it goes into effect next year, decreasing to $5.6 million annually over the next three years, Ms. Mark-Viverito said.
The cultural benefits being offered to those who possess the ID cards should encourage activity among immigrants and other New Yorkers who may feel that they cannot afford to visit various cultural offerings such as the symphony or the ballet. The de Blasio administration hopes that the cards will be embraced by a large number of residents.