Robert Marbut has been appointed as executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, yet is known for having blocked charities from handing out food, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness is responsible for coordinating programs and investment dollars across 19 federal departments, including Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor, and Commerce.
Marbut, however, has a long history of encouraging elected officials to stop “enabling” homeless people. He convinced Clearwater, Florida, to stop “renegade food” donations from churches and other charities in 2012.
“No one has got out of homelessness just because they got fed,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “That has never happened.”
In Pinellas County, Florida, he worked with the Sheriff’s Department to create a shelter that functioned as a jail diversion program for strictly homeless people. There, residents had to earn the privilege of sleeping indoors on bunk beds, and were forced to move outdoors for up to 15 days if they broke any rules, suggesting his aversion towards the “housing first” policy, which focuses on getting people off the streets before addressing other issues, such as substance abuse or mental health.
“He clearly has a patronizing, condescending and shaming-and-blaming approach that may hide homelessness from downtown business,” said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
“But it does nothing to end or even alleviate homelessness. His goal is to fix what he perceives to be individual flaws while ignoring all the really clear structural problems that create this. It feels like a throwback to a centuries-old ideology that hearkens back to the poorhouses of the 19th century,” Yentel continued.