He moved here to retire, he ended up on the street
Troy Morgan lived in Las Vegas for about a decade. It was nothing fancy, he and his sister lived in a hotel.
Morgan suffered from chronic pain, the result of a workplace injury and subsequent spinal fusion. So when he heard the University of Washington had a good medical program, he and his sister packed up all their belongings and headed for Seattle.
Medical care was a big draw for Morgan. But he had other dreams too.
He wanted to open his own store, send his sister to college and retire on a house boat. For him, Seattle held endless opportunities.
And then he arrived. And reality set in. "Rents here are really high," Morgan said.
After living in a hotel for a couple of months, Morgan and his sister couldn't afford it anymore and they ended up on the streets.
“As an older brother, watching the fact that my sister had to live on the streets for the first time in her life ever, it was crushing in more ways than one," Morgan said.
Morgan said he found a good community and he's learned that the people living on Seattle's streets have a lot to offer.
Right now, Morgan and his sister live in an unauthorized tent camp called Camp Liberty. It's behind the Umoja Peace Center in the Central District.
“It’s a normal community like any other, just has a stigma about it because we’re currently living in tents. That stigma is asinine," he said.
He said it's hard for them to find housing because service providers want to split them up, and they're not willing to do that.
But Morgan doesn't plan to live in a tent forever. He's got big plans to create a new style of homeless encampment.
He wants to convert shipping containers into small apartments, buy a piece of land to put them on and create a small village for homeless people run by current or former homeless people.
Morgan is particularly interested in creating a camp for people battling addiction. He said it's hard for addicts to get into housing while they're using and he wants to help them get into a more stable environment.
“There are not any type of housing that would give them the ability to use, but to decrease in slow increments so they don’t suffer, so their minds don’t crack,” he said.
Morgan battled his own addiction after being injured and taking pain killers for years. He said that's behind him now, but a lot of people on the street deal with the same issues.
He said he wants Seattleites to know that, while the city's homeless definitely have some problems, they're not bad people. In his camp he said there are people who want to go to college, who work every day of the week. They just need a stable, safe environment to lay down at night.
When asked about what government should be doing to help the homeless issue, Morgan rolled his eyes.
“I don’t want to say this in a bad way, but certain people in politics today shouldn’t be in politics, they should go crawl in a hole. They haven’t got the first clue what it means to help someone because they don’t live out here, and they won’t listen to us."