Federal Homelessness Chief Says California Efforts Fall Short: ‘You Can’t Tell Me It’s Working’

John Gunn looks into his tent on skid row after rain and hail soaked his belongings on Nov. 20, 2019. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

John Gunn looks into his tent on skid row after rain and hail soaked his belongings on Nov. 20, 2019. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Robert Marbut is brand-new to his job as executive director of the agency that coordinates the federal government’s response to homelessness. But he is already criticizing the work being done to get people off the streets in California.

“If [it] was working, California should have the lowest numbers in the country, and it should be reducing,” he told The Times. “And instead for the last five years, it has gone the other direction. So you can’t tell me it’s working. … To me, it’s that simple.”

For a state that is home to nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population, these could be ominous words from a man who, as head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, has sway over federal policy on homelessness and housing.

Since the summer, President Trump has been railing against Los Angeles and San Francisco for failing to get a handle on a growing number of homeless encampments. He has threatened to bring in the federal government, and rumors continue to swirl that the administration is drafting an executive order to crack down on homelessness, though it has yet to come to fruition and federal officials have offered few details of what it would entail.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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