Robert Marbut, a 30-year veteran of working on homeless issues, is the featured speaker this afternoon at a Community Forum on Homelessness sponsored by the City of Pensacola.
Marbut has worked with dozens of cities to reduce homelessness. He also led the Haven for Hope in San Antonio from concept to opening. After conducting a nationwide “best practices” study of homeless services, he developed the Seven Guiding Principles of Homeless Transformation, which have been adopted by a dozen communities.
Appearing on St. Pete-TV in 2011, Marbut outlined the principles, starting with moving towards a Culture of Transformation and away from the old “warehousing mentality.” That includes ending the practice of bringing food to locations where homeless congregate, which in turn he said keeps them from making any life changes.
“A lot of really neat programs spend a lot of time there,” said Marbut. “They’re well-meaning, they’re well-intended. But if you don’t move up that pyramid you’re never going to get transformation. Never going to get somebody off the street.”
Number two is integrating as many services as possible – a sort of one-stop-shop for the homeless through development of a coherent system. The third is a customized Master Case Management System. Part of that is asking the homeless about their personal plan of engagement – what are they prepared to do to get off the streets permanently.
Numbers four and five are designed to work hand-in-glove: rewarding positive behavior and providing consequences for negative behavior. Number six is redirecting or stopping external activities that keep the homeless from improving their current situation.
Marbut contends that such groups can come help and feed at established centers that offer job training and treatment for substance abuse, among other services. The seventh principle is separating the truly homeless from panhandlers.
“You know, who are making $30,000 or $40,000 a year tax-free, and that’s just their way of getting around the system, versus the truly homeless who we do need to get food, we do need to get medical care,” Marbut said.
The Community Forum on Homelessness, featuring Dr. Robert Marbut, kicks off at four o’clock this (Wed) afternoon, in City Council chambers at City Hall.