The End of Camp Dearborn

March 11, 2016

Today Seattle police moved to evict the small group of homeless campers who continued to occupy the Dearborn Street site formerly known as Nickelsville. This move was taken in response to a request from Chris Koh, who owned the land the camp was on, Pastor Steve Olsen, the camp’s religious sponsor, and Sharon Lee of LIHI, the camp’s fiscal sponsor. [See that letter at the end of this post.]

On January 27, Nickelsville had voted camp boss Scott Morrow out of his position. But Morrow, in addition to being good friends with both Lee and Olsen, is the one who set up the land deal with Mr. Koh. As such, he could cancel that deal at any time. Although the campers’ grievances against Morrow appeared to have merit, it was unlikely that the new “Camp Dearborn” would long endure without Mr. Morrow’s patronage. And it didn’t.

poverty_pimpThe 2016 rebellion at Nickelsville is strangely similar to one that took place almost exactly a year earlier. In that case, however, Morrow and his associates had the rebel leaders removed and Morrow reinstated, after Morrow told the campers that they’d have to reimburse him for all the services he’d been providing to the camp . . . paying for trash pick-up and port-a-potties, and what-not. A few months after this happened, I heard that the City of Seattle had actually been the one paying for many of these services, so I began pressing public officials to intervene and keep Mr. Morrow from bullying the vulnerable people under his care. Unfortunately, the City was having none of it. We just hand out the money, they told me. We don’t take responsibility for overseeing the camps. And by the way, we think Mr. Morrow is doing a fine job. [paraphrasing]

Camp boss Scott Morrow unloads supplies at the entrance to Nickelsville Dearborn in September 2015. Campers told me he spent just one or two hours there per week.

After the second (2016) rebellion at the camp, Morrow started in with the eviction threats again, so I began pressing my contact at City Hall – one Michael Taylor-Judd – to tell me exact amount of money the City had been spending on the camp. After three or four e-mails back and forth, Taylor-Judd finally leveled with me, admitting that the City had spent some $30,000 on the camp in 2015. So that’s $30,000 of taxpayer money Seattle spent on this camp in one year, and yet the City has STILL taken no steps to hold the camp operator accountable for the way he runs his camps. (Besides Nickelsville Dearborn, Morrow controls at least three other homeless camps in Seattle, most of which are funded almost entirely by the City. He also manages two other camps outside the city, as well as several dozen shelter beds scattered around Seattle. His organization, SHARE receives about a million and a half dollars annually in cash grants and subsidized bus tickets.)

Below is the breakdown of Seattle taxpayer support for Nickelsville Dearborn’s services, directly from Michael Taylor-Judd at Seattle’s Human Services Department. These are services that Mr. Morrow and Ms. Lee have claimed to the homeless campers, the media, and the public that they were paying and that’s what gave them the right to evict campers en masse if they desired.

Re: Trash Pick-up at Nickelsville Dearborn


[ . . . ] What I have in my notes is the following breakdown of a little over $30,000:

January-April 17, 2015

$9,474.90 Northwest Cascade (HoneyBucket expenses)
$3,818.39 Recology (Dumpster pick-up)

May-July 2015

$3, 844.00 Northwest Cascade
$5,909.24 Recology

June-October 2015

$7,868.48 Northwest Cascade

Payments stopped after that as the Humans Services Department was finally prepared to contract with service providers and needed to retain limited dollars for the new [homeless camps] being established, which I believe was the stated intention of the City Council ordinance.


Michael Taylor-Judd
Assistant to Division Director
Administrative Specialist III, Community Support & Assistance Division
Seattle Human Services Department

O: 206.684.0266 |


Here is the eviction request letter delivered to Camp Dearborn after the second rebellion:


–Story and Nickelsville photo by David Preston

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6 Responses to The End of Camp Dearborn

  1. JohnnyB says:

    The 10th and Dearborn site was a Nicholsville encampment. David was hired and paid to facilitate a self managed encampment, but failed to perform his job satisfactorily. After numerous attempts to correct David’s poor work performance, both orally and written, David’s employment was terminated. David was allowing rules to be broken and good campers departed leaving only campers that not only wanted to flaunt rules but engaged in activities that were both illegal and destructive to the camp.
    After David’s employment was terminated the 10th & Dearborn encampment went into receivership so that it could be returned onto a course that it should have never deviated from. Of course the scofflaws didn’t want to follow those rules that were set in place to make the Dearborn camp successful , choosing instead to break off from Nicholsville entirely.

    That in and of its self is fine but then those campers wanted Nicholsville to pay for the operations of the new encampment. After breaking away from Nicholsville, the campers began calling themselves, Occupy. The Occupy folks that don’t like following rules demanded that Nicholsville pay for their porta potties, and dump runs. The occupy folks wanted to keep the tents and tiny houses that were the property of Nicholsville. The occupy folks felt entitled to other people’s property and demonstrated little regard for following rules or the law.

    Scott Morrow wanted a successful, fulfilling encampment that Nicholodeans and the community could be proud of, not the cesspool it degenerated into under the failed supervision of David Delgado. SHARE/WHEEL and Nicholsville should not be obligated to support the Occupy folks just because they brothers and sisters in homelessness.

  2. Johnny B says:

    I should point out that your information and subsequent reporting that Scott Morrow manages SHARE’s tent cities and 15 indoor shelters is wrong. SHARE’s encampments (Tent Cities) and indoor shelters are self managed. Scott Morrow is not an employee of SHARE and has no say in SHARE’s operations. Scott Morrows official role in SHARE is that of a consultant.

    For over twenty years Scott Morrow has selflessly handed out hot coffee and pastries to the homeless, three times per week. Scott Morrow has a genuine interest helping the homeless community. The truth is Scott Morrow is a human being who is flawed and makes mistakes just like anyone, but he truly wants to help those who are living on the street and he should be commended for his service to Seattle.

    Please do a better job investigating the content of your articles before spewing falsehoods and misinformation. The Self managed shelter model, employed by SHARE, is an innovative approach to solving the homeless crisis here in Seattle and I can not let misleading information about SHARE go unchallenged.

  3. DBP says:

    Johnny, you seem to be some kind of PR person for Mr. Morrow. If that’s the case, please ask him to answer my requests for information. Then he can get his side of the story out. I’ve tried repeatedly to contact him or his staff for info about how much they spend to support their camps. No answer. (That’s why I had to get this information from the City in the first place. Because Morrow doesn’t answer questions.)

  4. Johnny B says:

    No I am no PR person, I am a homeless individual living in a SHARE shelter. The truth is, Scott Morrow and I bump heads and have arguments numerous times. We have healthy disagreements and he can be passive-aggressive. He is a human being, fragile and fallible. Regardless of your opinion of Scott Morrow, he lives and breathes compassion for a neglected community of human , The Homeless.

    It is very unproductive to make assumptions about who i am and my role in SHARE. I am strongly protective of The Bunkhouse and its participants, as its where I currently live, my domicile, and I strongly believe in SHARE’s self managed shelter model.

    As for our the amount of money spent on SHARE’s Tent Cities, I will be happy to answer any and all of your questions. All our participants are encouraged to participate in the fundraising, finance committees, grant writing, meeting attendance with City and council persons, everything in the operations of the indoor and outdoor shelter. SHARE does not conceal the nature of our finances, in fact SHARE participants actively participant in the finances.

    So the city of Seattle has authorized roughly $350,000 to spent on our encampments but the combined total cost for all three tent cities is close to $400,000. SHARE is running at a deficit.

    A private, third party, non-profit auditing firm has examined SHARE and determined that 97% of all monies taken in by SHARE goes to helping the homeless. This third party organization watch dogs charities, to see how donated money is spent, and SHARE does an amazing job operating with the insufficient amount of money the receive. You can google the results of that third party, examination of SHARE’s finances and see for yourself, just how much SHARE does for the homeless with so little.

  5. Johnny B says:

    And pardon all those grammatical errors, I was in a hurry and didnt’t proof read my comment before posting. I ll be more diligent about that in the future.

  6. Tracy Arant says:

    I too was a part of SHARE for many years. The writer of this blog has several errors. I’m assuming that’s why he writes a blog. No facts required. Johnny B, thanks for telling the truth as you see it. I’m in agreement, Scott Morrow is no saint, however, you show me another person in this city who will hand out coffee and pastry, will fight to obtain bus tickets for, and for along time did this without pay, all for the very community that gets pissed at him, then vilifies him to the press at every opportunity. I would have washed my hands years ago. I love how the writer of this blog, in all his research, never stumbled across any of us with good things to say. And writes this b.s. Behind his initials. If a reputable member of the press would like to speak to someone that was on the board of directors during the time frame in question, contact me via email.

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