Homelessness | KNKX


Fourteen-year-old Caydden Zimmerman's school days start early and end late.

He has a 90-minute bus ride to get from the homeless shelter where he is staying in Boise, Idaho, to his middle school. He wakes up at 5:45 a.m., quickly brushes his teeth and smooths some gel in his hair, and then he dashes downstairs to catch his school bus.

biologycorner / Flickr

The number of schoolchildren experiencing homelessness in Washington state has more than doubled in the past decade. According to a new report, their lack of stable housing takes a significant academic toll.

"RR Crossing - Rainer2" by Robin is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://bit.ly/2pA5PaR

Six people are suing the City of Puyallup seeking to end the police department's practice of clearing away homeless encampments, arguing the so-called "sweeps" are unconstitutional and have resulted in the loss of family photos, medications, and other belongings.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Earlier this year, elected leaders in Seattle did a rapid about-face on a tax that would have collected money from large employers like Amazon to fund programs to address homelessness.

At the time, poll numbers showed a majority of voters opposed the idea. While council members and Mayor Jenny Durkan were changing their positions, they were also exchanging text messages -- with each other, and with power brokers in the city. 

Courtesy of the City of Puyallup

How local officials should address homelessness has proven to be one of the most divisive questions across the Puget Sound region.

Few cities are more divided at the moment than Puyallup, where city leaders are considering a law that would make it harder to open a shelter or drop-in center serving the homeless.

Courtesy of the City of Puyallup

The Puyallup City Council is moving closer to passing a law that would make it more difficult to open a shelter or daytime drop-in center serving people who are homeless.

The proposal follows four years of conflict surrounding the city's only drop-in center, which some residents and business owners have blamed for making homelessness and drug use more visible in the city's downtown. 

Patti Ramos Photography

The actors in "Room For Rent" wear elaborate animal masks. A hen, a cuckoo bird, a cat, a squirrel. 

Behind the masks are people who are homeless or have experienced homelessness in the past.

Three times this summer, they've stood before audiences of people who know little about what that's like and tried to bridge a gap of understanding.

Will James / KNKX

Pierce County Council members have postponed a vote on a program that would connect homeless people with work as day laborers. 

A vote was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, but county officials requested it be held off so they could refine the proposal, a county spokeswoman said. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Tempers have flared in the past few months over Seattle's response to homelessness. 

Much of that started online. Many people share their frustrations about tents or crime on Facebook groups or websites like Nextdoor. 

Real Change reporter Ashley Archibald looked into how that online speech manifests in the real world

Will James / KNKX

If you walk into any homeless shelter in Washington state, or anywhere in the U.S., you're likely to see a disproportionate number of African-Americans.

It's a sign of a mystery lying at the intersection of race and homelessness in America: African-Americans seem especially vulnerable to losing their homes, even when compared to equally poor white people.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

In a major reversal, the Seattle City Council is expected to vote Tuesday to repeal a controversial business “head tax” it approved less than a month ago.

The 64 year-old veteran and cycling coach paddling to Alaska is doing so to raise awareness for his homelessness outreach efforts.
Keith LaPlante

Steve Rhoades will soon be on his way to Alaska. On June 14, he will leave his home on Bainbridge Island with nothing but survival supplies, a twenty-foot paddelboard and his hands — his motor of choice for a more than 750-mile naval journey.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle has more unsheltered people than New York, a city nearly 12 times its size, according to the most recent homelessness data from each city.

Paula Wissel/KNKX



In Seattle and King County, homelessness is a state of emergency. The city council is considering a new “head tax” on business to help fund responses to the emergency. But critics say a lot of money has already been spent, without much success.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Amazon is pausing development on two buildings in downtown Seattle as the City Council considers a "head tax" on large businesses.

Will James / KNKX

Sometimes, lifting families out of homelessness requires a large investment of government time and money.

Other times, it just requires a light touch at a critical moment. 

Will James / KNKX

Tacoma City Council members voted Tuesday to allow up to six legal tent cities or other temporary shelters to open throughout the city.

That could give Tacoma a total of seven legal encampments, even more than Seattle's six.

Will James / KNKX

Leaders in Tacoma could allow up to six legal tent cities to open. The move is part of a yearlong shift in the way city officials manage homelessness.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council is reconsidering a "head tax" on businesses to pay for housing and homeless services after council members failed to pass such a tax last year.


Activists and officials on the front lines of the fight against homelessness in Washington say they just had their most successful legislative session in recent history.

Paula Wissel / knkx

Correction: A previous version of this story stated an incorrect number of deaths of homeless people investigated by the medical examiner. The correct number is 169. We apologize for the error.

Between 2012 and 2018, the number of homeless deaths in King County more than doubled. Last year alone, the King County Medical Examiner investigated 169 deaths of people determined to be homeless.

In a case that may have a significant implications for Seattle's fast-growing homeless population, a King County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that the pickup truck a man was living in was his home.

"construction continues on the Olympia City Hall" by Jason Taellious is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2GEKBPv

Stemming a tide of homelessness on the West Coast is hard enough for major cities like Seattle, where coffers are full of tax revenue from technology companies and generous levies.

When you're running a smaller city like Olympia, where the budget is about one-fortieth the size of Seattle's, the task can be even harder. 

Warming Centers Open As Cold Weather Snap Drags On

Feb 21, 2018
Associated Press

Updated at 5:25 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 21 with more shelters

The cold weather is here to stay, at least through the weekend. The National Weather Service says high temperatures will be in the mid to upper 30s with nighttime lows dipping into the 20s.

Another system late Wednesday and early Thursday and could drop 1 to 2 inches of snow on coastal areas of Washington. Some other areas could see snow flurries, but no accumulations are expected in Seattle.

Will James / KNKX

The Burien City Council has voted phase out local trespassing rules that critics said targeted the city’s homeless population.


In a 4-3 vote Monday night, council members moved to repeal the law. The repeal is scheduled to go into effect in 60 days, which gives the council members time to reconsider or amend the decision.

"Burien Press" by Michael Allen Smith@INeedCoffee is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2FOfqAB

When the Burien City Council passed a trespass law four years ago, critics said it targeted the city's homeless population.  

Now, a new City Council is weighing a repeal of the law, which allows police to kick people out of public spaces for "disruptive" behavior. It could come up for a vote at a meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. 

Will James / KNKX

This winter's flu season is particularly bad, but it's especially dangerous to people without housing, who can be more likely to catch the flu and have a tougher time shaking it, according to service providers. 

Going to college can be hard, but it’s especially difficult for students experiencing homelessness. Washington lawmakers are exploring ways state colleges could help these students.

Will James / KNKX

Leaders in Tacoma have hired two artists-in-residence to help the city grapple with human elements of a homelessness crisis.

A six-year-long decline in the number of homeless people in the U.S. reversed in 2017, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.The report said that was largely because of rising homeless populations on the West Coast.