June 24, 2017
Two months ago, I was contacted by a homeless man named Chris Otto. Mr. Otto claimed he had been in a position of authority at two homeless programs run by SHARE (the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort) and had some info he wanted to pass along concerning the group’s operation. This was not the first time I’d been offered an expose by an unhappy SHARE client or employee, and I respond to such offers cautiously, because they typically don’t pan out.
True to the pattern I’d seen with other SHARE exiles, Otto was a bit scattered, as one would expect from a person in his situation. Yet he was considerably more focused than some of the other inside sources I’d worked with, so I stayed in touch with him while I thought about how to handle the information he was giving me. I asked him to summarize his observations in a letter, which he did (see below). I make no claim as to the accuracy of Mr. Otto’s statements, but they are broadly consistent with what I’ve heard from many others. My own research supports some of his claims.
That [SHARE boss] Scott Morrow manipulates the people in SHARE needs to be underlined; there seems to be a level of sadism in his demeanor as well. He monopolizes people’s attention by manipulating them into participating on committees to do various kinds of chores. There’s the finance meetings, communication group, Direct Action Work Group (DAWG), Obtuse Objective Group (OOG), bar committee, screening committee, power lunch, weekly “house” meetings, social media group, grant writing committee, political rallies, plus other stray duties such as Elective Committee* (EC) and security responsibilities. How anyone could be expected to have a life outside of the organization is beyond me.
Scott Morrow is present at every SHARE meeting, directing the events towards whatever result he wants. If Scott isn’t present at a meeting, such as at the weekly house meetings, then another staff member is. There is always at least 2 staff members at each meeting including Scott. Although he gives the appearance of free choice to whoever might make it to table, the truth is he uses misdirection and re-direction to achieve HIS GOALS, which more often than not include some kind of political action. Scott runs these meetings for the most part, and he has a way of directing, misdirecting, and redirecting the people in attendance into voting whatever way he wants. But then, if someone has an issue with the decision he will say, “You guys voted for it…”
Recently during an OOG meeting, he constantly redirected the people attending toward forming a task force of people to seek out buildings to occupy in order to demonstrate DIRECT ACTION. This was after lengthy discussion of the types of direct action available: writing, protesting etc. He would twist it around to make it seem as though the “SHARE community” had made the decision, but in reality he had made the decision for them, the unwitting participants simply being the executors of his will.
In one particular direct action of occupying buildings, the demonstration would be in keeping with previous years. The goal was to demand more money, and presumably he would be closing down shelters, thus giving shelter residents no choice but to participate in the demonstration.
Every decision at an OOG meeting is passed on to a DAWG meeting, where yet another group of community members are guided by Scott Morrow to carry out the task at hand (writing letters, making flyers, assembling search groups) thinking they are making an original decision. When the DAWG is done they present their accomplishment to the “community” at the “Power Lunch” meeting the next day. Each DAWG participant receives applause and acceptance from the community, which is something valuable to someone who has no self-esteem left, like these people. They don’t see what’s happening, but Scott’s manipulation is actually quite obvious to someone who is clean and sober. They’re a bunch of lemmings being guided by a pied piper of the homeless.
A common tool of control in this organization is for people to be booted out should they not conform in one way or another. This causes them to live continuously in fear of their lives being ruined, of being moved from a bad position to a worse one. You are kept in a constant state of dependency: for food, for safe shelter, for camaraderie, etc. by having your resources and time severely limited by the demands of the organization. And the connections they have, if you are not liked, if you cause them trouble, or if you might speak to the wrong person…. You can expect to have a lot of your own problems.
The truth is that many of the people in SHARE are of limited intelligence and/or strung out on drugs or alcohol and simply don’t see what’s going on. The ones that do see, meaning mostly the ones that don’t have a drug or alcohol problem, leave.
On the subject of substance abuse, SHARE claims to have a sober environment. Bullshit. They have an extensive list of rules that only get enforced if they need or want to enforce them. The ECs [Elective Committee leaders] will write up people on bogus charges if they are not liked but will not write up their friends for the same charges. People in the camps or shelters will screw with others, sometimes just for entertainment. Violence occurs more often than one would suspect; police reports are publicly available. The dealing of drugs is common, especially methamphetamine. At this time there are resident dealers in every tent city, it’s a service the residents couldn’t live without. Some dealers specialize in heroin, others on meth, or pills.
SHARE has made a big stink regarding bus tickets; these bus tickets are an invaluable commodity for someone without an income who is trying to get their life back together, unfortunately many of the people involved with these “shelters” aren’t trying to get their life back together at all. These are people who are sitting around milking the system, waiting on disability claims or sitting around using their drug of choice, while hapless donors bring all the necessities of life right to their doorstep in the form of clothing, food, water, emotional support, etc. Bus tickets are used as a currency, traded for cigarettes or drugs, or saved up and sold for $1 a piece, then the money used to buy alcohol.
The financial meeting every month is a charade, there is a “facilitator” present who gives the impression the community has a role in governing the organization’s money. Don’t believe it. For one thing, most of the people at the meeting are drunk, stoned, or high on who knows what, and for the most part they can’t balance a checkbook. It’s not like they have a clue what’s going on with these financial reports. The numbers are rattled off by someone as fast as possible so the meeting can end as fast as possible. And that’s it; nobody questions anything.
Most meetings a guy named “Nick” is elected Chair. This is because he blows through the meetings with little regard for process and has obviously never read Roberts Rules (for chairing a meeting). Nick glosses over key points made by some in an effort to speed along meetings, or perhaps to avoid addressing issues, it’s hard to tell.
Considering the community has to do security, meetings, more meetings and more security, shower, laundry, etc. etc., time left for actual work search or other personal gain is limited. Scott and Michelle Marchand put on a good show of acting and dressing like they are poor, even going so far as Scott showing up with food-stained shirts. Or perhaps he really is just a squat little fat slob. But in reality, neither of them are poor and they are using the most vulnerable people in our society to put money in their pockets.
It has to be understood that this “SHARE consultant” position of his is PAID but nobody knows what he makes. Kinda removes the whole “non-profit” margin… no? Ultimately HE controls the organization, the people involved, the money, and the political ties. This money could be used more effectively elsewhere instead of perpetuating a situation that keeps people homeless for his own financial gain. Scott really is a squat little manipulative slob. But to be honest with you a part of him DOES care about the homeless. It’s just that the other part of him cares about free money. Perhaps a bit more and his political motivations are worth examining.
I have read an extensive amount about this organization. I have participated in an extensive amount of this organization. And I believe they are fraudulent. I believe they are embezzling money. I believe the tax evasion is obvious and am shocked they haven’t been caught, due to the way they demand money from the city when they conduct their protest camps. This amounts to EXTORTION. They are bullies as well, bullying around a bunch of homeless people into performing their dirty work, a violation of people’s civil rights, don’t you agree? Stripping away dignity from an entire community of individuals who aren’t even aware of it until it is too late.
And the skimming thing? –Well, duh… Much of what SHARE gets, including at a few of their indoor shelters at the churches, is donated. Tents are donated. Food is donated. Vehicles are donated. Gas cards donated. Walmart cards donated. Gift cards donated. Cash donated. Clothing, computers, etc. etc… It’s all donated.
None of this is a secret. The drug dealing is not a secret; it goes on to this day!!!
WHY IS THE CITY OF SEATTLE SUPPORTING AN ORGANIZATION THAT IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED AND IS ALLOWING DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE IN THEIR FACILITIES???
My god, I suspect you already know more than I do, I am currently far more behind now than I was 4 months ago and have no clue how I am going to fix things. My mind is a bit frazzled, and I am more than irritated I believed in this organization. All I wanted to do was get back to work and make some money, now I am in a worse position than before I got tied up with SHARE.
Former Elective Committee leader at Tent City 3 and St. Luke’s indoor shelter, February through April, 2017.
*Elective Committee. This is the group that nominally runs the camps and shelters. The EC title gives the bearer a false sense of independence and choice. That’s by design, something that Scott has built into his system. The camp or shelter residents elect a person to be in charge, but the fact is nobody wants to be in this role, since being responsible for a bunch of irresponsible people is the fastest way to get kicked out. It’s a lot of drama, and if anything happens, the “elected” person is automatically the one that is responsible.
Since sending me this information, Christian Otto has found full-time employment in another state. He is no longer homeless.