New city-issued ID cards expected to benefit Richmonders – but at a price
on October 3, 2014
Richmond residents will be able to apply for the city’s first city-issued identification card as of Oct. 15. Like a similar card issued by the city of Oakland, Richmond’s ID card can also be used as a debit card.
“In Richmond, we welcome everyone,” said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. “This card is an essential step toward greater equity and equality. It is needed to make sure all residents have access to equal services regardless of immigration status. It will help people feel comfortable reaching out to police when needed.”
The ID cards will create protections for not only undocumented immigrants, but also people released from incarceration, and the indigent. The optional debit card feature is of enormous benefit to those who lack access to banking services, McLaughlin said.
LaShonda White, Management Analyst at the City Manager’s Office, said the program is administered by a third-party vendor — SF Global, LLC — at no cost to the city. But according to the agreement with SF Global, the city of Richmond has some small obligations, including promoting the card and the program on the city’s website, and providing office space at a negotiated price to be paid by the vendor.
Oakland’s card came under criticism for being too expensive, forcing SF Global to lower the price. Richmond officials said the pricing of the card is significantly below Oakland’s original launch price. “We don’t set the fees,” White said. “But there were some goals. One of them is to make sure people are not being charged excessive fees.”
While the card will undoubtedly make life easier for undocumented Richmond residents, the fee structure is elaborate, to say the least. In Richmond the monthly card fee will range from zero to $3.99 depending on the number of purchases or how much money has been put onto the card. Raul Hinojosa Ojeda, CEO of SF Global, said if customers make over 25 purchases, or put $1,000 on the card or more, in a single month, they won’t have to pay the $3.99 monthly fee.
Other fees attached to the card include: a $1 fee for each additional call after one free customer service call each month; a $1 fee for card-to-card cash transfers; a 50 cent inactivity fee, which stops after 6 months; a 50 cent balance inquiry fee and a $1 fee when customers withdrawal money from a MoneyPass Network ATM, after 2 free ATM withdrawals.
Richmond will pay an initial fee of $15 or $10 for seniors. Hinojosa Ojeda said all the money would be used to support the operations and manufacture the cards.
“What we have is a price which is actually significantly below what most debit cards cost,” Hinojosa Ojeda said. “And [the card] is more useful than a debit card, because it’s also a piece of identity.”
To encourage local business growth and employment, Hinojosa Ojeda said the company is going to launch a discount program with the card in the beginning of the year, which allows Richmond residents to get discounts when they conduct purchases in local businesses.
Hinojosa Ojeda added that he expects about 5,000 people, or about 5 percent of the Richmond population, to apply for the cards during the first year.
To receive a card, applicants need to show photo identification, plus proof of Richmond residency such as a utility or services bill. Applications will be processed at Grace Lutheran Church, 2369 Barret Avenue.
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