Robert Marbut Confirmed as Head of U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

Members of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) confirmed Robert Marbut as the new executive director on December 10. President Trump appointed Mr. Marbut, a community college professor and consultant to cities on homelessness, after removing Matthew Doherty, who served as director starting in 2015 (see Memo, 12/9). NLIHC has serious concerns with this appointment, given Mr. Marbut’s dehumanizing and ineffective approach to homelessness, none of which is based on evidence or best practices.

Mr. Marbut rejects “Housing First,” a proven strategy for reducing homelessness that prioritizes finding safe, stable, accessible housing for people experiencing homelessness before addressing other problems, such as substance abuse or untreated mental health issues. Instead, he promotes an approach to homelessness that he calls “Housing Fourth,” which entails large-scale shelters with treatment facilities where people experiencing homelessness “earn” the right to beds within the shelter. While he says he does not support large-scale arrests of people experiencing homelessness, he has endorsed expanding law enforcement’s authority to arrest people experiencing homelessness for violating minor ordinances. Mr. Marbut has also called for cities to stop “enabling” homelessness by providing free meals, which he calls “street feeding,” and by allowing people to sleep in public spaces.

In a statement responding to his confirmation as director of USICH, NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel said, “Homelessness is one of our country’s most urgent, tragic and solvable crises. The solution to homelessness is affordable and accessible homes. We have the resources to provide such homes to all those in need; we lack only the political will.

“The appointment of Robert Marbut to lead the country’s only agency dedicated to ending homelessness is regrettable; any actions he might take to further criminalize or harm people experiencing homelessness would be reprehensible.”

Read Diane’s full statement at: