Banking Committee Democrats Send Letter to USICH Director Marbut Questioning His Approaches to Ending Homelessness

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, led Committee Democrats in a letter to United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Executive Director Robert Marbut on January 30. The letter requested answers from Director Marbut on the policies and approaches he plans to advance in his new role as USICH director.

Director Marbut rejects “Housing First” policies, a proven strategy for reducing homelessness that prioritizes finding safe, stable, accessible housing for people experiencing homelessness so they can begin addressing other problems, such as substance abuse or untreated mental illness (see Memo, 12/09/19). In their letter, the senators noted they are “troubled by reports of policies [Director Marbut] has previously recommended to communities,” including “the rejection of evidence-based Housing First approaches, and the adoption of punitive policies that would prevent charities from providing food to people experiencing homelessness and require people to earn the right to sleep indoors at local shelters.”

The senators asked 11 questions to Director Marbut regarding his approach to addressing homelessness and housing instability and asked for clarification around previous statements the director has made about the “true causes” of homelessness. Director Marbut has been instructed to respond to the senators’ questions by February 6.

The senators’ letter is at: