WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, today demanded answers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on the administration’s pick, Robert Marbut, to lead the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). Brown pressed David C. Woll, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, on the administration’s decision. Marbut has publicly proposed several harmful ideas that would effectively punish homeless Americans and are deeply troubling coming from someone selected to lead the agency tasked with responding to homelessness. The USICH coordinates the federal response to homelessness by working in close partnership with senior leaders across 19 federal member agencies and creating a national partnership at every level of government to reduce and end homelessness.
“The Administration’s pick, Robert Marbut, has advocated a number of troubling policies with regard to homelessness, such as banning charities from providing food to people experiencing homelessness, and rejecting evidence-based policies that have worked to reduce homelessness. Mr. Marbut’s selection comes on top of reporting that the Administration is considering a ‘crackdown’ on homelessness and reports that the Administration is developing an Executive Order on homelessness,” Senator Brown wrote.
Brown has led efforts to reduce homelessness in the U.S, and earlier this year, sent a letter to President Trump calling on the President to stop advancing policies that would exacerbate homelessness, including proposals to slash federal housing programs. Brown also called on the President to support initiatives that will help prevent and end homelessness. These include investing in affordable housing and resuming implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule to help communities identify local barriers to fair and affordable housing.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below:
December 9, 2019
Mr. David C. Woll
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Mr. Woll:
I am writing to you out of concern about the direction that this Administration appears to be going in addressing homelessness. Since you appeared before the Committee on November 20, the Administration has selected an individual to become the new head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) whose policy positions have caused alarm among those working to end homelessness across the country. The Administration’s pick, Robert Marbut, has advocated a number of troubling policies with regard to homelessness, such as banning charities from providing food to people experiencing homelessness, and rejecting evidence-based policies that have worked to reduce homelessness. Mr. Marbut’s selection comes on top of reporting that the Administration is considering a “crackdown” on homelessness and reports that the Administration is developing an Executive Order on homelessness.
In your current role, you are the top political appointee overseeing U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homelessness programs and policy. You have also served as HUD’s representative to the USICH, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness and partners with communities across the country to prevent and end homelessness. Given your critical role in HUD’s, and the nation’s, homelessness policy, please provide answers to the following questions by December 13, 2019:
i. What are the elements of this Executive Order or initiative?
ii. Is funding for additional affordable housing one of these elements?
iii. Do any of these elements include efforts to round up people living in homeless encampments?
iv. Do any of these elements involve making federal property available as housing for homeless individuals and/or families?
v. If you are considering the use of federal property in this effort, how will you evaluate whether the property is suitable as a living facility for people experiencing homelessness?
i. As HUD’s representative to the Council, is it important to you that the next Director is committed to policies based on the evidence and research about homelessness and its solutions?
ii. Do you support Housing First as a model for addressing homelessness?
iii. Will you attend the Council meeting on December 10th?
iv. As HUD’s representative on the Council, do you plan to vote to confirm Mr. Marbut as the new head of the USICH if his appointment comes to a vote on December 10th?
v. If you do not plan to continue as HUD’s representative to the Council, please state who will.
I look forward to your prompt response.