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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One day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, women’s rights demonstrations are unfolding across the nation Saturday. 

Seattle's women's march is expected to be the third largest in the country, after similar events in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. That’s not surprising for a city where Trump won just 8 percent of the vote.


A class-action lawsuit claims city and state procedures for clearing away Seattle's homeless encampments are unconstitutional. 

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Seattle by two homeless women and two organizations that aid the homeless: the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and the Real Change newspaper.

"edge of belltown" by Jeff Wilcox is licensed under CC by 2.0

Seattle tenants are seeing some of the steepest rent hikes in the nation. But they also have some strong laws working in their favor, protecting them from discrimination, excessive fees, and unsafe living conditions.

Be:Seattle, the group organizing a series of "Tenant Rights Bootcamps" this winter, hopes to educate tenants about their legal rights amidst anxiety over the city's tightening housing market.

Derek McNeill

Filmmaker Derek McNeill started with a question: What circumstances lead people to the roving Seattle homeless camp known as Nickelsville?

In mid-2015, he started looking for an answer.

McNeill took his camera to a Nickelsville community on Dearborn Street, where residents opened up about their lives before and after they entered the cluster of tiny houses and tents near I-5. People like a soft-spoken former engineer defied easy stereotypes of Seattle's homeless.

Will James / knkx

Imagine growing up in a state to total innocence and freedom.

You're a child, and you have an infinity of woods and mountains to explore. You eat fresh blackberries your mother picks in the forest. All the dangers of the modern world are miles away.

Everyone in town is like an uncle, a mother, a grandmother. They dress up as Santa Claus for Christmas and stage a big egg hunt every Easter. 

"Seattle" by Tiffany Von Arnim is licensed under CC by 2.0.

An average of 236 people a day are moving to the Seattle region amidst a historic economic and population boom. That means thousands of people are getting an outsider's perspective on the city.

We asked a few relative newcomers about their first impressions of Seattle, for some insight into how the region looks to the rest of America.

Will James / KNKX

Residents of a SeaTac mobile home park marched through the city Friday to protest their community's pending closure.

The owner of the Firs Mobile Home Park is planning a motel project and has given residents until October 31, 2017, to move out, according to a notice at the park's entrance.

About two dozen residents and activists walked to a hotel three miles away that's owned by their landlord, Jong S. Park. He could not be reached for comment Friday.


Puyallup officials say they're cooperating with an investigation into proposed city regulations targeting the city's only resource center for the homeless.

U.S. Justice Department officials informed Puyallup leaders of the investigation in a Dec. 6 letter. The Tacoma News-Tribune first reported the investigation Thursday.

Courtesy of Seattle City Council

Plans to end homelessness in Seattle rely in part on an innovative homeless shelter called the Navigation Center.

Seattle officials touted the center as a creative, modern response to the city's homelessness crisis and initially hoped to open it by December 31. This fall, they said it was on track to open in January.

"jo0966.JPG" by Mark Goebel is licensed under CC by 2.0

An obscure $48 fee Washington residents pay for filing real-estate paperwork is one of the most important weapons in the state's fight against homelessness, housing advocates say.

They're preparing to fight for the fee's future during next year's legislative session in Olympia, as an approaching "sunset" provision threatens to shrink the fee to $18.

Will James / KNKX

Members of the Satanic Temple don't actually believe in Satan.

They're more like atheists who follow ethical precepts and embrace the devil as a symbol of independence -- and as a bit of a provocation aimed at organized religion. 


Pierce County lawmakers this week voted down a sales tax that would have raised an estimated $10 million for mental health and substance abuse programs.

The South Sound county will remain the only one of Washington's densely-populated counties without the 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax for mental health. Twenty-two of Washington's 39 counties have the tax, along with the city of Tacoma.


Seattle leaders are considering cutting ties, at least temporarily, with a bank financing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Wells Fargo manages $3 billion of the city's operating funds under a contract that began in 2013 and is set to expire at the end of 2018. The bank says it is also one of 17 institutions providing loans for the oil pipeline through the Midwest.


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. 


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.


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.