How do the occasionally-homeless deal with ensuring their address is correct on government IDs?

In most states, you’re supposed to update the address on things like your drivers license within 30 days if your address changes. For most of us with stable housing, that’s just an occasional hassle we do very rarely. But what about the people who are at the edge of homelessness who rotate between living in their car, with friends, in motels, and in rentals depending on their current economic situation? I can’t imagine that they go down to the DMV every time their housing situation changes.

Do the government agencies–like the DMV, police, social services–have policies in place to deal with people whose addresses may change on a monthly basis? Or does the government just assume everyone has a permanent address and people with unstable housing get to deal with the consequences of not fitting into the system?

The people don’t care. The addresses on file can be years out of date.

The government mostly doesn’t care about “those types” of people anyway. Trying to get them to update their addresses is just a waste of time. So there’s a lot of wink, wink letting it slide when they interact with someone like this and the address is obviously not up to date.

“Is this your current address?”
“Close enough.”

Use the address of a stable friend or relative.
Use a work address if employment is more stable than one’s housing situation.

I can’t say I’ve ever really known anyone who was seriously homeless. But I doubt they care what the feds know about them. It’s not like they are cashing checks or need it for a security clearance. They are obviously not keen on keeping their paperwork in order.

Actually yes, they may be cashing checks and they may need to be contactable. I’ve known cases of people who used the address of a local charity.

[personal anecdote on] Once upon a time I had a vagabond’s lifestyle and received a jaywalking ticket for hitchhiking with only one foot on the sidewalk. (Both feet must remain on the sidewalk in Oakland, California.)

Much later I drove all the way to the Oakland Court House to pay that ticket. “It’s already gone out to warrant. Follow the instructions you receive in the mail.” I explained that the address on the ticket wasn’t current and that the Post Office had no forwarding address for me. The courthouse clerk repeated patiently “Follow the instructions you receive in the mail.” I explained the problem a second time, but nothing I said caused the clerk to deviate from his useless instruction.

Later I was arrested for, and spent time in jail for, that jaywalking ticket.

More than you might imagine, the working poor are a part of the homeless population. Families with children in school, as well. Not having a permanent address can be a huge problem in accessing social services or job opportunities. There is no monolithic “they” who make up the homeless, who are homeless because they are flouting the social order.

There are plenty of homeless people like my younger brother who have mental illness, emotional problems or addictions. It’s not that they “don’t care” so much as this is the least of their problems.

The homeless shelter I stayed at gave out cards every week with the guest’s name and the name and address of the place. That was considered legal i.d.

There is not one category of homeless. Everyone has their own story.

I deal with a few that stay on the streets despite our best efforts because alcohol and drugs are more important than having a roof. The first step to getting them housing is a shelter. Shelters don’t allow drug or alcohol use. We know who they are. The local hospitals know who they are. No ID as far as I know. That is a very small percentage in the suburbs.

A couple of the motels in town are hooked in to government programs and house people long term. They can use that as their address.

What I have found mostly is that they don’t bother to change the address on their driver’s license because its a pain in the ass. PO boxes are cheap. They have their important mail go there. My state does not allow having a PO Box on your drivers license.

There’s usually General Delivery (though not in San Francisco any more).

I know a guy in a 12-step program who had been homeless in San Diego, living under a bridge and stealing small things whenever he could.

He said the cops knew his social security number better than he did.

He was finally able to get sober, got a job, somehow got transferred to Japan and is an IT professional.