Led by Representatives William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Gwen Moore (D-WI), a group of 75 House Democrats sent a letter to President Trump on December 10 outlining their disappointment with the appointment of Robert Marbut to lead the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH; see Memo, 12/9). The letter states that Mr. Marbut is “unqualified, unprepared, and disdainful of the mission of the critically important federal agency.”
The letter focuses on Mr. Marbut’s rejection of research, bipartisan agreement, and learning that shows Housing First strategies reduce homelessness. The letter also cites his position that blames homelessness on what he perceives as individuals’ “moral failings.” In his work as a consultant, he has encouraged cities to outlaw sleeping in public, panhandling, and “street feeding” programs run by charity organizations. He promotes the creation of campus-type facilities with mandatory “24/7 programming” requiring individuals experiencing homelessness to earn the most basic of necessities, such as a bed, through displays of “good behavior.” The members of Congress note that none of Mr. Marbut’s policies address the underlying cause of homelessness – a severe shortage of accessible, affordable homes for the lowest-income renters.
The members express concerns that the appointment of Mr. Marbut – in addition to other Trump administration proposals to defund key HUD programs, impose rent increases and work requirements on HUD tenants, evict mixed-status immigrant families living in subsidized housing, and remove protections for LGBTQ individuals experiencing homelessness – turn homelessness into a partisan issue, despite decades of bipartisan support to end the crisis. The members state they “reject your choice of Robert Marbut” and urge the president to work with experts to find a suitable leader of USICH.
The letter is at: https://tinyurl.com/s8jc99y