Empowering Patients through Voter Registration
Voting looks a bit different this year for people across the U.S. as many voters turn toward mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this may make voting more accessible for some, it can make voting even more challenging for people experiencing homelessness. Many individuals who are homeless do not have a valid ID or a permanent address to receive registration information or their ballot. At Christ House, our case management team assists patients with securing IDs and also allow patients to receive mail at our address during their stay.
Alison Maurice, the Kairos Program Director, has been encouraging residents at Kairos House to make sure they’re registered to vote for this year’s presidential election. Residents have reduced barriers to voting since they already have valid IDs which are necessary for housing paperwork, and their own permanent addresses. Even still, Alison has assisted many with making sure their registration information is up-to-date. We spoke with some of the Kairos members to hear why voting is important.
For Pedro, voting this year takes on extra meaning. Pedro became a permanent resident in the U.S. in 1999, applied for citizenship in 2017, and officially became a U.S. citizen this past February. “Christ House helped me with filling out the papers for immigration,” he recalls. Pedro’s application and interview were both in English, his second language, which he studied for in advance. He was very thankful for the Christ House staff and volunteers who accompanied him for his swearing in ceremony in February. Gloria Gomez-Tinney, the Medical Care Coordinator at Kairos House, who assist Pedro throughout the process and attended the ceremony said, “I am inspired by Pedro’s perseverance and courage to see his goal of learning English and becoming a U.S. citizen through. He did it with a lot of effort and persistence.”
Since then, Alison has helped Pedro register to vote in the upcoming election. Pedro says there were 113 people becoming citizens alongside him on the day of his ceremony, and though he’s not sure if all of them will be voting, he knows he certainly will be. He says, “It is very important for me because many people like me don’t have opportunities for everything. I want to participate. If I’m living in this place…it is my responsibility.”