The Worst Picks the Worst to Do the Worst

Homeless Kids and Adults — Life Is About to Get Much Worse!

No surprise — the worst possible person was appointed as head of the obscure United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) by the worst possible administration to impose the worst possible conditions on millions of homeless kids and adults across America.

Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) explained the significance of this appointment, condemning the track record of Robert Marbut, whose job will be to lead the USICH. “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.

“It is a problem that the Trump Administration’s designee to head the Interagency Council on Homelessness may believe that it’s more important to stop churches from providing food to homeless people than it is to find those people homes. If true, this is yet another example of this administration obstructing efforts to end homelessness in this country,” said Brown.

War on homelessness usually means launching an effort to alleviate homelessness, albeit typically an insipid effort. In this case, we’re likely going to see a full-blown nuclear war, beginning in California, the bane of our “president” for so many reasons. Robert Marbut will undoubtedly relish his challenge to put hurt on California, and homeless people will be collateral damage.

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California Dreaming to Become California Nightmare — Photo Diane Nilan

Marbut is one of those guys better known as “poverty pimp.” He’s been making a living consulting — telling municipal leaders what some of them want to hear — that homeless people deserve to be arrested. According to a media release from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “He has also endorsed expanding law enforcement’s authority to arrest people experiencing homelessness for violating minor ordinances.”

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Jail will be the housing option for many if Marbut has his way. — Photo Diane Nilan

I’ve cyber-tracked Marbut for over a decade. He’s inspired a huge amount of wrath and frothing at the mouth as he’s bounced across the country enabling the homeless-haters and the anti-feeding crowd with his tough-on-homelessness rhetoric. His influence was felt in Sarasota, FL as police cracked down on people in need of food and shelter.

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Sarasota city leaders embraced Marbut’s tough-on-crime methods. Photo Diane Nilan

Mostly, this consultant has directed his cruelty on adults — those deemed by HUD’s definition to be “chronically homeless.” But his nefarious net catches younger people, like Jacob, who described his experiences for the UN Committee Against Torture.

Jacob, a homeless youth from Salt Lake City, Utah, described the sleep deprivation, the fear, and the comprehensive sense of despair to which he was subjected this way: “The cops give us no rest….There was one night I couldn’t even get a full eight hours of sleep because I was getting woken up by cops and told to go from place to place. And I would just go lay down and get woken up an hour later. Go lay down another place, and get woken up. I got five tickets that night…I don’t [have income to pay the tickets], I try to get a job…but they don’t hire homeless people around here… I’m at risk of getting a ticket every night. I can sleep on the sidewalk and get a ticket. I can sleep [across the street] and get a ticket. No matter where I go I get a ticket.

Getting a ticket isn’t as innocuous as it sounds. It tosses the recipient into the anti-poor criminal “justice” system, where a person who can’t pay often ends up behind bars. For a youth, this easily leads to the path of lifetime homelessness.

On my recent travels across Rt. 20 for the HEAR US 2020 VisionQuest, I encountered Marbut-style-cruelty in Sweet Home, OR. A reporter interviewed me about my visit there, as I related a story about a woman who had a negative encounter with police in this town.

“The police issued her a citation in September in Sankey Park after the outreach group made contact with her, Nilan said. She doesn’t know the circumstances of the woman’s life, but ‘if you value life, you’ll value the life of that baby. If you don’t take care of prenatal and afterbirth, as babies, we are again planting the seeds for dysfunction.’”

And now we will see if Marbut will expand his evil focus to kids. And families.

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Fighting Cruelty With Compassion

Those of us committed to alleviating suffering of families and kids experiencing homelessness will ramp up our efforts, but we’re going to need help from the sidelines. Among the strategies we’ll employ:


Right now your (every) community needs help meeting the needs of homeless families/youth. Trust me. Their needs aren’t being met, and I’m not just talking about Christmas presents.

Among the things you can do:

  • Volunteer (might need to wait until after the holiday rush, but call and check).
  • Ask what your shelter needs (assuming you have one in your area).
  • Get a copy of The Charlie Book: 60 Ways to Help Homeless Kids (our inexpensive little book that is chock-full of ways to help, and proceeds support HEAR US Inc., my frugal nonprofit.)


  • When local activists hold a march or rally for homeless people, join them!
  • If you have knowledge about family/youth homelessness, write a letter to the editor or op-ed column to encourage local support.


  • Help us get the Homeless Children and Youth Act passed. This changes the way HUD defines homelessness so families and youth can be counted, and eventually served. The link takes you to a simple ACTION STEP and all the info you’d need.


Our new textbook, Changing the Paradigm of Homelessness, has just been published! What’s significant about this? It’s the first book that speaks truth to power — revealing the schemes and strategies that have ignored the largest segment of the homeless population, families/youth.

The book is filled with helpful info for professors, students, policymakers, elected officials, agency personnel, and anyone interested in working for an end to family/youth homelessness (and it’s on sale from the publisher at 30% off until the end of Dec. 2019 — DISCOUNT CODE IS ADS19).

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Today’s homeless kids can easily become tomorrow’s homeless adults. Or not, depending on our ability to provide options to homelessness that nurture. I’m in for the fight. Join me?

Founder/pres. HEAR US Inc., gives voice & visibility to homeless families & youth, ran shelters, advocate, filmmaker, author, 15 yrs. on US backroads.

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