Will James

South Sound Reporter

Will James covers the South Sound region, as well as housing and immigration issues, for KNKX. He came to the station from Newsday in his home state of New York. 

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"SEATTLE" BY CHRIS YUNKER IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY 2.0

Renters in Seattle may soon be able to pay their security deposit, last month's rent, and other move-in costs on a six-month payment plan.

That's the central provision in a law Seattle lawmakers passed Monday afternoon that's designed to lower the up-front costs of moving into an apartment. Backers cheered the passage as an important step toward easing pressure on renters amid the city's spiking rents. 

"Apartment buildings in Cascade" by SounderBruce. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to lead the federal housing department, a decision that could affect the response to Western Washington's housing woes.

It's unclear to what extent Carson, a Republican, will reshape the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But Seattle-area housing experts say it plays an important role as the region grapples with soaring housing costs and rising rates of homelessness. 

TED S. WARREN / AP PHOTO

A funeral procession for fallen Tacoma Police Officer Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez will pass through the city Friday before a public memorial service at the Tacoma Dome.

Molly Richard / Center for Social Innovation

Homelessness and race are intertwined in ways experts don't fully understand. One example: African-Americans are vastly over-represented among the homeless, even when differing poverty rates among racial groups are accounted for.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Hundreds of people attended the first of two vigils honoring a Tacoma police officer who was slain on duty.

People gathered Thursday at Officer Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez's home police station, lighting candles, singing songs and sharing memories. Knkx reporter Will James spoke to All Things Considered host Ed Ronco from the site of the vigil:

Another vigil was planned Thursday night at an elementary school.

Wash. Democratic Electoral College members Levi Guerra and Bret Chiafalo explain a plan to encourage Republican electors in other states to vote for an alternative candidate to Donald Trump.
Will James / knkx

A handful of Democratic Electoral College members are hatching a plan to deny Donald Trump the presidency. 

Four Democratic electors from Washington and Colorado are leading the effort to persuade 37 Republican electors in other states to vote for someone other than Trump.

They're calling themselves "Hamilton Electors," claiming to honor Alexander Hamilton's vision of the Electoral College as outlined in Federalist Paper 68.

ELAINE THOMPSON / AP

King County's annual One Night Count of the Homeless is a massive undertaking that can send more than a thousand volunteers fanning out through Seattle and its suburbs.

For the first time in 37 years, the task of organizing it falls on a new group, and leaders say they plan to try new strategies aimed at reaching more people.

All Home, which oversees federal housing funds in King County, is taking over management of the census, scheduled for January 27.

"Seattle" by Chris Yunker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Housing advocates say up-front costs of renting a new apartment, like security deposits and non-refundable fees, are a major barrier to finding a home in Seattle.

"Doug Baldwin" by Keith Allison. Licensed by CC by 2.0.

A Washington state task force on Monday recommended lowering the state's unusually high bar for prosecuting police officers suspected of misusing deadly force.

State law requires prosecutors to show an officer acted with “malice” and did not act in "good faith." It's a standard unique to Washington state. Police accountability activists say it makes it nearly impossible to prosecute an officer who shoots someone in the line of duty.

Paula Wissel / knkx

African-Americans make up 7 percent of Pierce County's overall population but about 30 percent of the homeless population.

It's a disparity seen across the United States. African-Americans are over-represented among the homeless, even when differing poverty rates among racial groups are accounted for.

Will James / KNKX

Thousands of students walked out of Seattle high schools Monday in a show of anger at the election of Donald Trump.

Several hundred gathered for an afternoon rally on the sports fields of Capitol Hill's Cal Anderson Park. Many said they wanted to show solidarity with groups they feared would be marginalized during a Trump administration, including people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and members of the LGBTQ community. 

Garfield High School student Daniela Castillo, 18, wore the flag of her native Mexico around her shoulders.

Courtesy of the Satanic Temple of Seattle

Leaders of the Satanic Temple of Seattle say they've been approved to launch an after-school club at Tacoma's Point Defiance Elementary School this winter. 

Temple leaders applied with Tacoma Public Schools to start the club in mid-October, after abandoning a similar proposal in Mount Vernon because school facilities there would not have been available until April. 

Will James / knkx

Dozens of Republicans rose to their feet with a scream. Donald Trump's victory was unfolding on giant screens beaming Fox News into a Bellevue ballroom.

At a Democratic gathering across Lake Washington, news of Hillary Clinton's concession scrolled across a TV with CNN on mute. Stragglers at the hotel bar moaned, cursed, cried out in disbelief.

"She was supposed to win," said Brittany Silvas, a Clinton supporter from Seattle.

More than 60 Renton families who rely on rental assistance are getting a reprieve weeks after landlords told them they would have to vacate their apartments.

Tenants of the Renton Woods and Grammercy complexes have faced displacement since the summer, when landlords said they would no longer accept Section 8 vouchers, according to advocates with the Tenants Union of Washington State.

September unemployment data released this week seems to show a widening economic gap between struggling small-town Washington and the booming Seattle area.

But there are signs rising unemployment in rural Washington is a result of more people joining the workforce rather than a loss of jobs.

Leaders of a Tacoma-based health system have launched a new unit for teenagers in psychiatric crisis, calling it a more peaceful alternative to the emergency room. 

The 27-bed Mary Bridge Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit opened its doors Tuesday at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital. 

As Pierce Transit rebuilds from deep recession-era cuts, agency leaders hope free car rides to the bus stop could expand ridership. 

Pierce Transit, Washington's second-largest transit agency, received a $205,000 federal grant this month to cover rides from app services like Uber or Lyft -- or conventional taxi companies -- to and from certain transit centers. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In January, Kathy Bertsch was laid off from her job of 10 years at an engineering and manufacturing company. It was a desk job, and she had grown a bit restless there, but it was the job she had planned to retire from.

Bertsch had three months of severance pay, then was left with unemployment benefits and the task of rebuilding a career.

She went to a Seattle job fair, where she began talking with representatives of a group called ANEW, or Apprenticeship & Nontraditional Employment for Women.

A conservative think tank claims in a class-action lawsuit that some home caregivers paid by Washington state want to leave their union but can't.

The Freedom Foundation, based in Olympia, filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Tacoma.

The group claims some caregivers have written to Service Employees International Union 775 and the state expressing a desire to leave the union -- but the state keeps taking union dues from their paychecks. 

Courtesy of Pierce County

More than half of Washington's 39 counties have a special sales tax funding mental health and substance abuse programs. 

Among the state's urban counties, Pierce County is the exception. Leaders there have resisted enacting tax the one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax for years. 

But with homelessness and addiction on the rise, some county leaders are looking to change that.

ELAINE THOMPSON / AP PHOTO

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Thursday unveiled what he called a more "balanced" approach to managing the city's unauthorized homeless encampments, entering a debate that has simmered for weeks.

Murray said at a news conference that city workers would tolerate encampments in some public spaces -- but not parks, sidewalks, or school grounds. 

Will James / knkx

Seattle lawmakers are stepping back to revise a law that would effectively allow people without homes to camp in some public spaces.

Since the City Council took up the proposal Sept. 6, a growing number of residents have expressed fear it would make tents fixed features of parks and sidewalks.

Four years ago, Tacoma City leaders gazed into a $60 million budget hole and cut 200 jobs through layoffs, early retirements, and by leaving vacancies unfilled.

Now an improving economy could allow the city to restore some of its police force and even fix up the Tacoma Dome. 

Courtesy of the New Hope Resource Center

Operators of Puyallup's only drop-in center serving homeless people say proposed security regulations could force them to shut down, following months of tension with neighbors.

Some residents say homeless people seeking help at the New Hope Resource Center have brought drugs and crime to downtown Puyallup. 

In September, city officials proposed a list of security requirements they may impose as a condition of the center's 2017 license. 

Authors of Initiative 1501 say its central aim is to protect seniors from scammers. But detractors argue the initiative itself has a hidden purpose.

Initiative 1501, on the ballot in Washington state this election, would impose harsher criminal and civil penalties on identity thieves and fraudsters who target seniors and other vulnerable people.

Will James / knkx

Corrected on October 11, 2016 - An earlier version of this post said Washington has the nation's 42nd-highest unemployment rate. In fact, Washington has the eighth-highest.

An initiative on the ballot this election would set Washington state on the path to having one of the nation's highest minimum wages: $13.50 per hour. 

Few, if any, detractors have argued that Washington workers don't deserve a raise. But a debate has focused on whether a jump in the minimum wage would be wind drag or jet fuel for the state's uneven economy. 

Will James / knkx

Bouquets, balloons, and hand-drawn posters piled up Monday at the grassy entryway of the Cascade Mall, the small-town shopping center that is the site of America's latest mass killing.

Residents of Burlington drifted by the makeshift memorial to pay respects to the five people fatally shot Friday - or simply to take stock of what had happened to their community of 8,000 people about an hour's drive north of Seattle.

Will James

High rates of diabetes and other health problems in Seattle's Chinatown-International District are due in part to a lack of safe outdoor space, a community organization says.

InterIm CDA, a housing and advocacy group, released a report Sept. 21 saying the district has less green space per person than any other Seattle neighborhood. 

ELAINE THOMPSON / AP

Seattle leaders unveiled a package of reports Sept. 8 filled with recommendations on how to solve the city's homelessness crisis. 

DANIEL X. O'NEIL VIA CREATIVE COMMONS

Seattle lawmakers Monday passed a law designed to give thousands of hourly workers more regular schedules, calling it a step in a fight against economic disparities in the city. 

The law, dubbed "secure scheduling" by activists and city officials, passed 9-0 over objections from managers at national retail and restaurant chains. The vote makes Seattle the second city in the country, after San Francisco, to pass scheduling protections for hourly workers.

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