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Nickelsville leader camps in village kitchen, throws away donated food

A line of tiny houses stand with their backs to the adjacent street at a homeless encampment in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

More drama at the Nickelsville Othello tiny house village unfolded over the weekend, where LIHI alleged Nickelsville head Scott Morrow had donated food thrown away. He is also said to be camping out in the village’s kitchen.

RELATED: LIHI, Nickelsville split up over homeless camp management

This saga started a few weeks ago, with accusations from LIHI that Morrow had been using Nickelsville’s homeless residents as political pawns, reportedly compelling them to participate in political rallies.

Those accusations were confirmed by a few residents as well, although Murrow refused to comment.

Over the weekend, LIHI began accusing Morrow of camping out inside the Nickelsville Othello kitchen, refusing to leave, and throwing away donated food.

KIRO Radio’s Carolyn Ossorio was invited into the camp’s kitchen, but Morrow refused to go on the record.

Instead, two of Morrow’s self-proclaimed supporters — in an interview where Morrow appeared to be coaching them — defended him, claiming the food that was thrown out was rotten.

One of those supporters, who goes by the name “Early,” wouldn’t directly say that Morrow instructed anyone to throw out the food, but did say that it was a Morrow supporter who did it.

“(Morrow) was mad about this whole thing, about LIHI coming in here and taking over, so he feels literally, if they’re taking over, do what we do, and don’t just leave food in the kitchen that smells so bad, no one wants to go in there,” said Early.

LIHI stands by its accusation that it was either Morrow, or Morrow instructing someone to throw out the food. They also accuse him of staying at the camp despite not being homeless.

During Carolyn’s visit, it did appear Morrow was living long-term in the kitchen, and that he was sleeping on a wood platform covered by a large canopy tent, typically used by the camp’s children for a play area. Murrow again refused to confirm on that, but other campers and LIHI did.

Scott Morrow
The space where Morrow is said to be sleeping in the Othello tiny home village.

Chris Brand, LIHI’s on-site coordinator, said Murrow is making life difficult at the camp, and accused him of encouraging residents to go “on strike” with him.

“There have been instances where people have overheard him (say) ‘make the mess for the LIHI people, they’re getting paid to clean up after you,'” said Brand.

Right now, LIHI has no immediate plans to forcibly remove Morrow from the camp, despite blowing the whistle on his alleged actions. The City of Seattle is leaving it up to LIHI to decide what’s best, but is keeping a close eye on the situation.

LIHI is in the process of stripping the Nickelsville group of its responsibility over these camps, after it could not get Nickelsville, and individuals like Morrow, to sign on to a memorandum of understanding.

RELATED: Seattle sweeps Nickelsville encampment

The memorandum outlined rules for the three Seattle villages Nickelsville runs, setting accountability metrics for getting people to talk to social workers, and moving residents into permanent housing. The Nickelsville group has maintained that it wants to run the villages independent of LIHI with little to no oversight.

Will Lemke, a City of Seattle spokesperson who sits on the city’s homeless navigation team, said that for now, they’ve issued a letter stating they stand with LIHI.

“The last couple weeks, LIHI has terminated the relationship with Nickelsville, so we support LIHI’s efforts to take over day-to-day management of those sites,” said Lemke.

The letter from the city also went on to highlight concerns with Nickelsville’s management.

“We are concerned about some of the tactics we’ve heard about through media reports, and also meetings that we’ve had with representatives with Nickelsville,” Lemke continued. “Staff have been on site and learned from residents about things like intimidation, and resources not making it to donations. We support LIHI’s efforts to maintain control of these sites to ensure these people are getting the resources that they need to be successful.”

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