Bipartisan Congressional Leaders Urge USICH Director to Commit to “Housing First” Model to Ending Homelessness

Four key congressional leaders – Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) – sent a letter on January 10 to Robert Marbut, President Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) – urging him to commit to following evidence-based, non-punitive interventions to ending homelessness, including the “Housing First” model. These leaders currently serve as the chairs and ranking members of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for housing programs.

Dr. Marbut has received widespread criticism from policymakers and advocates for ignoring decades of learning, research and bipartisan agreement by rejecting the Housing First model for addressing homelessness. Housing First a proven strategy that prioritizes finding safe, stable, accessible housing for people experiencing homelessness. Instead, Marbut supports using the threat of incarceration to sweep people experiencing homelessness out of public view. Dr. Marbut also focuses on behavior modification - requiring people to “earn” their right to beds within shelters by exhibiting “good behavior” - rather than addressing the underlying cause of homelessness: the severe shortage of homes affordable and available to America’s lowest-income individuals.

The members of Congress highlight in the letter the successes of Housing First, stating it “is an approach that has received bipartisan support over the past decade, and members of both sides of the aisle can attest to the reduction of homelessness in their communities through the application of this approach.” The letter notes that Housing First “has been shown to result in improved medical and behavioral health, reduced criminal justice involvement, lower rates of substance use, and better educational outcomes.”

Read the letter at: