Marbut dressed down and interviewed homeless portraying the role of a person in transit. He compiled his study for Siskiyou County and an article about what he found can be accessed at www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/20170721/study-analyzes-homelessness-in-siskiyou-county.

An expert in homelessness who was hired two years ago to help Siskiyou County deal with its challenges was recently appointed as the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

In 2017, during a workshop regarding homelessness in Siskiyou County, Dr. Robert Marbut said there are 50-82 people homeless in the county. At that time, about 15-32 resided in Yreka, 12-20 in Mount Shasta, and about 23-30 in the rest of the county.

Marbut made a distinction, however, between the actual local homeless population and those who are “seasonal eco and spiritual tourists,” some of whom come to the county to visit but end up living off the resources available to them here, and those who are traveling up and down the I-5 corridor and get dropped off here, but do not stay more than a few days.

The numbers may have gone up since the 2017 study, as the federal government is reporting a 2.7% increase in the nation’s homeless population driven by a spike in California, according to an annual count that took place in January 2019.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is reporting its third consecutive uptick in its homelessness projection for the country, based on a summary of its annual report obtained by The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump has been highly critical of the homeless problem in California, and HUD said the increase seen in its January snapshot was caused “entirely” by a 16.4% increase in California’s homeless population.

“As we look across our nation, we see great progress, but we’re also seeing a continued increase in street homelessness along our West Coast where the cost of housing is extremely high,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “In fact, homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency.”

Every year, communities around the country organize efforts to visit every shelter, park and alley in their communities to count the homeless population. The single night snapshot represents a key benchmark to determine how the nation is faring in the effort to end homelessness.

In the January 2018 count, almost 553,000 people were counted as homeless. That number rose to about 568,000 this year.

About two-thirds of the homeless were living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and other sheltered locations. And slightly more than a third were in the streets, abandoned buildings and other unsheltered locations considered unsuitable for human habitation.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said the state is doing more than ever to tackle the homelessness crisis, but the federal government also must step up and put “real skin in the game.”

“Federal leadership matters. Investments made during the Obama administration are proving effective and have contributed to more than a 50% drop in homelessness among veterans since 2010,” Newsom said.

Newsom said California has invested an unprecedented $1 billion to help communities fight homelessness.

“But we have work to do," he said. “And we need the federal government to do its part.”

While the overall homeless count increased, there continued to be pockets of progress. The HUD count found 37,085 homeless veterans, a decline of 2.1% from 2018. The number of homeless families with children dropped nearly 5%.

The report finds that states with the lowest rates of homelessness per 10,000 people are Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Dakota.

The states with the highest rates were New York, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington. The District of Columbia had a homelessness rate of 94 per 10,000 people, more than twice as high as New York.

Team Shasta

Team Shasta was created to address homelessness in Siskiyou County. The small group, led by Mount Shasta’s then-mayor Kathy Morter, solidified efforts to investigate, explore and educate individuals experiencing homelessness and the public. Mount Shasta Police Chief Parish Cross requested the police chiefs within Siskiyou County contribute their California Board of State and Community Corrections funds for Team Shasta’s efforts. The BSCC funds were mandated to provide crisis intervention training for law enforcement and address homeless issues, both of which were fulfilled.

Team Shasta contacted six other cities in northern California and southern Oregon who were experiencing similar homeless issues. The majority recommended consulting with Marbut and after further vetting, Marbut was hired. He visited communities and individuals throughout the county soliciting input, expertise and innovative ideas.

Marbut dressed down and interviewed homeless portraying the role of a person in transit. He compiled his study for Siskiyou County and an article about what he found can be accessed at www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/20170721/study-analyzes-homelessness-in-siskiyou-county.

Marbut shared some personal experiences that included helping at his father’s church, where for 13 years he handed out food and clothing to those in need. Thirteen years later, he found the same people were coming to the steps of the church for assistance. Marbut said: “This isn’t truly helping others. We need to meet their critical needs and then assist them transition to a healthier life. Not everyone agrees with Marbut’s concept.

Marbut’s statement

Marbut issued the following statement after his appointment on Dec. 4:

“It is a true honor to be chosen as the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. This position comes with very important and urgent responsibilities, and I commit to do everything within my power to be a good steward while serving in this position.

“There is no way to sugarcoat the situation. With more than 194,000 unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness, more than 850,000 homelessness assistance beds, and more than 1,300,000 children and youth identified by public schools as experiencing homelessness, we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. This crisis is especially pronounced in California and other Western States. Sadly, more than 1,000 individuals experiencing homelessness died last year in Los Angeles alone, and the number of individuals might be even higher this year.

“The evidence is clear. We are in a real crisis! Playing games with data, changing definitions and hiding from realities only mask the challenges we face,” said This in turn impedes implementing real solutions that address the true causes of homelessness. We need to be honest with ourselves; much of what we have been doing is not working. If it were working, the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness would be dropping.

“I am looking forward to working with the President, member agencies of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Congress, as well as state/local governments and community-based service providers to address these critical issues. Working together, we can make the needed changes to address this crisis.

“I would like to thank the President, the White House staff and outgoing USICH Chair Frank Brogan for the honor of this service assignment. I would also like to acknowledge former Executive Director Matthew Doherty’s dedicated service over the last five years.

“Working together, we can successfully take on this challenge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.