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12:56 AM Mon, Dec. 17th

Homeless veterans can now benefit from waived Arizona MVD fees

Representatives from the Department of Motor Vehicles help veterans with license or registration problems during the 2017 Veterans Stand Down event at the Frontier Village Shopping Center, Sept. 22, 2017, in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier file)

Representatives from the Department of Motor Vehicles help veterans with license or registration problems during the 2017 Veterans Stand Down event at the Frontier Village Shopping Center, Sept. 22, 2017, in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier file)

Homeless veterans in Arizona looking to stabilize their lives now have one less financial burden to worry about.

Under a new state law, the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) can waive a number of standard fees for this vulnerable population, including the $25 required for getting a license or ID.

“Having a license or ID card is essential to so many aspects of life, and this new law will make it easier for less-fortunate veterans to get one of those credentials,” said MVD Stakeholder Relations Manager Jennifer Bowser-Richards. “Our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to serve our nation, and the MVD is proud to assist homeless vets in this way.”

Other fees that can be waived include those for a license suspension or revocation and a road test for drivers moving to Arizona from another state.

“Every penny counts,” said Roy Ellis, a 62-year-old Air Force veteran who has been homeless since December and had previous bouts of homelessness. “Every benefit that we can use to help enhance our lives is greatly appreciated.”

In his experience, Ellis has known homeless veterans to sometimes struggle with obtaining and then holding on to something as basic as a driver’s license or ID card.

“Being homeless, your belongings are commonly stolen and lost, so you may not have any identification whatsoever,” he said.

Agencies like the Coalition for Compassion and Justice (CCJ), U.S. Vets and the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services understand this and will often cover the costs for a homeless veteran to get a state ID. With this new policy, that cost burden is now lifted from those agencies.

“It saves us in costs that could go to other resources,” said CCJ Executive Director Jessi Hans.

To qualify for the waiver, the MVD will verify the customer’s status as a veteran. The customer must also provide a statement on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs letterhead or a statement on the letterhead of a verified provider of homeless services that the customer has been homeless within the past 60 days.

Arizona law relies on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homeless as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. This includes a location not meant for human habitation, or a temporary or emergency shelter.

For more information about the new policy, go to azdot.gov.

Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein, email him at mefrein@prescottaz.com or call him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105.