LOCAL NEWS

Nickelsville allegedly coerced residents into participating in political rallies

Apr 9, 2019, 10:24 AM | Updated: 10:12 pm
tiny homes, tiny home, LIHI, tiny houses...
A line of tiny houses stand with their backs to the adjacent street at a homeless encampment in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

A whistleblower in a leadership position at Nickelsville is accusing organizer Scott Morrow of coercing residents of the organization’s tiny home villages into participating in political rallies.

RELATED: LIHI, Nickelsville split over Seattle homeless camp management

Naming herself simply as Jane, the whistleblower claims that Morrow required homeless residents to participate in activism, demonstrations, and political rallies “as a condition for housing.” That, she alleges, was labeled as “PC,” or “participation credit” by Nickelsville.

One of those rallies was in support of Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s recent push back against Mayor Durkan’s nomination of interim Human Services Director Jason Johnson.

For many other rallies, one resident notes that Nickelsville participants were recruited merely to fill out crowds.

“We really don’t even know what it’s about [or] what’s going on — (Morrow) just wants the numbers and we’re there,” a resident told KIRO Radio.

That same resident said she even lost a job after being pressured by Morrow to participate in activism rather than working.

“I’m not the only he has done that to,” she claimed.

These allegations all come on the tail end of what’s been a tumultuous saga for the relationship between Nickelsville and the Low Income Housing Institute.

LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee wrote to Nickelsville leaders on March 20 that it was ending its five-year relationship with the group, citing “fundamental differences in our organizations’ approaches and aspirations.”

“Everything Sharon Lee has said, every accusation she has put out there to the public, is 100 percent accurate. It’s 100 percent the truth,” a resident said.

Lee claimed that Nickelsville — a nonprofit that runs three tiny home villages in Seattle — was encouraging its members not to seek permanent housing.

Shortly after LIHI announced the split, padlocks appeared on the gates of all three villages to keep police, city employees, and LIHI staff (excepting some case managers) out. According to Jane, that came at the instruction of Morrow himself.

She goes on to accuse Morrow and Nickelsville of discouraging residents from meeting with case managers. The reasoning behind that comes back to the alleged use of residents for political activism.

RELATED: Seattle sweeps Nickelsville encampment

“Nickelsville is sort of cult-like, because they have people dedicated to working full-time as activists, and if we move them into housing, then they lose their base,” said Jane. “The more people we move into housing, the fewer people are there that will continue to be 100 percent loyal to Scott Morrow.”

On Monday, members of Community Advisory Councils for tiny home villages in Othello and Northlake sent a letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and city council, threatening to resign if LIHI didn’t return to the table to negotiate with Nickelsville.

In the wake of the LIHI/Nickelsville split, the city’s Human Services Department has made it clear that residents of tiny home villages run by Nickelsville in Othello, Northlake, and Georgetown will not be forced to leave. HSD also noted that LIHI will be assuming control over the day-to-day operations.

“LIHI will no longer be funding the salaries of Nickelsville staff on March 20,” a recent letter to Northlake residents from Lee reads. LIHI “oversight and facilitation of self-management” for the villages was set to take effect March 28. As of publishing, LIHI staff have only been able to get in to the Othello village.

Morrow has not yet responded to requests to comment.

MyNorthwest staff contributed to this report

Local News

SDOT Light Rail Ped...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Pedestrian struck, injured by Link light rail train in south Seattle

A pedestrian was struck and injured by a Link light rail train Wednesday afternoon in south Seattle.
1 day ago
(Photo courtesy of King County)...
Frank Sumrall

King County executive initiates plan to conserve and save the region’s wilderness

King County executive announced a plan to protect 65,000 acres of forests, farmland, and greenspace, raising property taxes in the process.
1 day ago
drought...
MyNorthwest Staff

Drought may impact most of Pacific Northwest this summer

Drought is expected to impact much of the Pacific Northwest this summer, impacting areas throughout eastern Washington, southern Oregon and southern Idaho.
1 day ago
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

SPD report discovers 80% of 911 calls were for non-criminal events

After reviewing more than 1.2 million 911 calls from 2017 to 2019, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) found 79.7% of calls were for non-criminal events.
1 day ago
...
KIRO 7 News Staff

9-year-old boy shot by younger brother in Federal Way

A 9-year-old boy was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after being shot by his younger brother in Federal Way.
1 day ago
The US government will fly in baby formula on commercial planes contracted by the military in an ai...
Heather Bosch

A guide to locate baby formula from Washington’s Department of Health

Washington's Department of Health has put together a list of resources to help find nutritious food to feed your newborn.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Nickelsville allegedly coerced residents into participating in political rallies