1,000 new tiny homes could soon be built in Seattle – at possible $10M cost

Published on kiro7.com November 2017; more than 3,000 engagements on social

Three tiny house villages and three sites (which includes tiny homes and tents) operate in Seattle under the Low Income Housing Institute. See photos in this slideshow. This image from the Central District Tiny Village. Image via LIHI.

With Jenny Durkan elected as Seattle mayor, she’s expected to start fulfilling her campaign promises: one aspiring to build 1,000 more tiny homes for the homeless at an estimated $10 million cost.

The concept is not new, but here’s where Seattle is now and how Durkan wants to evolve it.

A look at the tiny-home villages currently in Seattle

Hundreds of community members – from colleges to the Tulalip Tribe – have built tiny homes for years to scatter throughout sanctioned tent cities.

Seattle made national headlines when it opened that village in January 2016, opening 14 spaces to homeless residents. Donors funded the 8-by-12-foot spaces – costing about $2,200.

Each adult living in the Central District village pays $90 per month to cover the utilities.

With the goal of moving people from tents to secure housing, Sharon Lee executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute – the organization that oversees the village – calls it a good crisis response. Tiny houses can help hundreds of people with short-term housing as they find jobs and feel safe in their space,

“We must stop the public health crisis of deaths, illness and misery caused by the lack of sufficient shelter,” Lee told KIRO 7.

So in under two years’ time, LIHI opened three more villages, housing between 40 to 60 people per site.

Some tiny home villages – like the one in the Central District – include plumbed toilets, rather than portable ones, and the spaces are insulated.

Three tiny house villages and three sites (which includes tiny homes and tents) operate in Seattle under LIHI. The below interactive is based on a public list of locations published on The Low Income Housing Institute website. Scroll down under interactive to keep reading this article. 

The City of Seattle does not cover the cost of building tiny homes, but it does pay for some operation and staffing. Funding and the creation of the spaces came largely from LIHI, private donors and volunteers.

As LIHI is responsible for the villages, they are managed by Nickelsville, a self-managed community of homeless people. Workers monitor for criminal activity and clean up debris in the village.

Continue reading 1,000 new tiny homes could soon be built in Seattle – at possible $10M cost

Live in Seattle and worried about North Korea? Read this

Published Sept. 2017 on kiro7.com

With North Korea testing missiles at an unprecedented rate, experts calculate the Seattle area could eventually be in range.

But is that a realistic worry for people on the West Coast? KIRO 7 News talked to scientists and government leaders, who explain below.

How did we get here?

Many West Coast residents feel unease with their homes being the closest in the United States to North Korea as tensions between the two countries build every week.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday again gave a doomsday warning to Kim Jong Un. And just last week, North Korea launched a missile that flew over the northern part of Japan.

File AP

2017 has been a rapid year of progress for North Korea, with its 22 missiles fired over 15 tests since February. That includes the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile, launched over the summer.

North Korea, known for being a propaganda machine, has claimed that a missile could carry a nuclear warhead. Whether that could actually happen, physicists do not yet know.

What’s the real threat to the Seattle area, if there is one? 

After two ICBM launches, analysts calculated everything west of Chicago could be in range.

“The distance from North Korea to Seattle is about 5,100 miles (8,200 km),” said David Wright, a physicist and co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“We don’t know how heavy North Korea’s nuclear warheads are, and the weight affects how far a missile can carry them. However, most experts believe North Korea’s longest range missile, the Hwasong-14, may be able to carry a nuclear warhead as far as Seattle or will be able to in the near future.”


Missiles are highly inaccurate. Wright told KIRO 7 News that Kim would likely shoot at a city physically bigger than Seattle in an attempt of hitting a population center.

Continue reading Live in Seattle and worried about North Korea? Read this

Trump’s travel ban explained: Decision expected soon on Seattle judge’s ruling

NOTE: This story was first posted on kiro7.com in Feb. 2017.  It was published before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on whether to reinstate President Donald Trump’s travel ban that was halted by a judge in Seattle. I wrote the majority of the copy and aggregated from previous team coverage to give our users a well-rounded look at the case before the appeals court decision. 

I’ve worked this story as breaking news on our digital platforms since Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit to invalidate key provisions in Trump’s executive order. Click here to see social media samples on this story. 

A Seattle judge’s ruling temporarily blocking President Donald Trump’s travel ban allows travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries once, barred under his executive order, to come into the United States.

Federal Judge James Robart’s decision remains in effect as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether the president’s executive order on immigration should be reinstated.

KIRO 7 News heard from a spokesman of the appeals court. We’re expecting a ruling in the coming days.

Here’s what we know now. Scroll down below for a timeline of events and then an expanded questions-and-answers section.

What is Trump’s travel ban?

The president signed an executive order on Jan. 27 that he said concerned “extreme vetting.”

It barred any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States.

Legal permanent residents — green card and visa-holders — from those seven countries who were out of the United States after Friday Jan. 27 could not return to the U.S. for 90 days.

The order also directed U.S. officials to review information as needed to fully vet foreigners asking to come to the U.S. and draft a list of countries that don’t provide that information. That left open the possibility that citizens of other countries could also face a travel ban.

How did the State of Washington get involved?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a complaint that asked the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to declare key provisions of the executive order unconstitutional and illegal.

Ferguson also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order seeking an immediate halt to the executive order’s implementation in the state and nationwide.

Read a full explainer on the lawsuit here.

KIRO 7 News’ Essex Porter was at the news conference on Jan. 30 when the attorney general argued that the executive order violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and the First Amendment’s establishment clause, infringes on individuals’ constitutional right to due process and contravenes the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

Microsoft and Expedia are willing to testify in this case. Amazon is seeking its legal options.

What’s exactly did Robart’s ruling do?

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart of Seattle issued a ruling last week granting the restraining order brought by the state of Washington. This means Robart’s decision temporarily halted Trump’s travel ban.

Continue reading Trump’s travel ban explained: Decision expected soon on Seattle judge’s ruling

Breaking Facebook posts: Washington state’s fight against Trump’s travel ban

KIRO 7 News has been on watch since Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit to invalidate key provisions in Trump’s executive ordered that barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. See some breaking Facebook posts I’ve worked on below.

To see an extensive timeline of this case, click here.

Posts from when Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the lawsuit 

Posts from when U.S. District Judge James Robart’s ruling came down in Seattle

Continue reading Breaking Facebook posts: Washington state’s fight against Trump’s travel ban

150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle area, Pew study finds

NOTE: First published on kiro7.com in Feb. 2017. More than 2,000 people reacted to this story on KIRO 7 News’ Facebook page.

An estimated 150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue – according to a list released by the Pew Research Center.

The list – released on Thursday – finds that most of the United States’ 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants live in just 20 major metropolitan areas.

Based on 2014 estimates, the analysis shows that unauthorized immigrants tend to live where other immigrants live. Among lawful immigrants – including naturalized citizens and noncitizens – 65 percent lived in those top metros, according to Pew.

20 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of unauthorized immigrants

President Donald Trump ordered in January cuts in federal grants for cities that offer safe harbor for undocumented immigrants.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray made a promise that Seattle will remain a so-called sanctuary city even at the risk of millions of dollars in federal money.

Continue reading 150,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Seattle area, Pew study finds

Can the new attorney general change pot laws in Washington? Legal expert weighs in

NOTE: This was first published to kiro7.com before Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general. 

As President Donald Trump’s attorney general pick to lead the Department of Justice nears confirmation, pot advocates in states that legalized the drug wonder if his leadership could turn to federal marijuana enforcement.

Alabama Sen.Jeff Sessions openly said during a Senate drug hearing last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” claiming the drug is dangerous. According to the Washington Post, Sessions’ former colleagues testified years ago that he used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana. ” Sessions denied the accusations.

>> Related: Read about how the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also made allegations in 1986 that Sessions used the power of his office as U.S. attorney to intimidate minority voters.

During a panel discussion presidential power in modern politics on Wednesday, criminal law expert and University of Washington professor Trevor Gardner explained to a room full of hundreds of people that he expects a clash between the federal government and high profile marijuana producers and distributors in states where voters approved its use.

“[Sessions has] taken the Obama administration to task by name and mentioned Obama, attorney generals — Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder — as well as FBI Director James Comey saying they have all [failed] to enforce federal marijuana prohibition in criminal decriminalization states,” Gardner said.

Twenty-one states have decriminalized marijuana. This means certain small, personal-consumption amounts are a civil or local infraction, not a state crime.

Washington state voters legalized marijuana nearly four years ago. When it passed, the U.S. Attorney General’s office promised to take a hands-off attitude, as long people in Washington State kept it away from children and kept locally grown marijuana from crossing state lines. Under a new attorney general that could change, as selling it still remains a crime under federal law.

“I do think the federal government, the Department of Justice, and Jeff Sessions are going to be very aggressive about prosecuting marijuana production, distribution, and decriminalization states,” Gardner said. “This is not going to be an easy task for the government.”

Continue reading Can the new attorney general change pot laws in Washington? Legal expert weighs in

Woman who escaped from shooting that killed officer: ‘All lives matter’

NOTE: This story was first published on kiro7.com in Dec. 2016. During our team coverage of an officer shot and killed in the line of duty, a KIRO 7 photographer recorded Kristi’s Croskey’s statement. She was in a home during the shooting. I posted it to Facebook, and it was viewed more than two million times.

“I don’t want to hear anything about black lives matter, because all lives matter,” Kristi Croskey said to a group of reporters as law enforcement lined up outside a hospital Wednesday night to honor a fallen Tacoma officer.

Croskey was the woman inside a home’s basement with the gunman when shots were fired. She hid during the shooting and finally made her way to safely.

“I don’t want to hear about the police officers being inhuman, shooting people or unnecessary or any of those things,” she said. “I want to say the Tacoma Police Department handled this matter with such professionalism despite their own being shot. And I want to say this situation did not have to occur, I want to say when you make poor choices, and the response is someone being killed, if that may be the situation at the end of this night, I want you to know the Tacoma Police Department did any and everything that they could to protect and serve.”

“They wanted to protect the life of him, his family, and anyone else that was involved in this matter. I do not want to hear anything about the Tacoma Police Department did wrong [or] the Lakewood Police Department did wrong, I want people to take a long inventory of themselves and see what they did wrong.”

Saying she didn’t want to interfere with the department’s investigation, Croskey’s words to the media were brief, but they hit a chord with thousands on social media.

On KIRO 7 Facebook page, hundreds of people said thank you to Croskey for sharing her experience in a video that collected more than a million views.

Continue reading Woman who escaped from shooting that killed officer: ‘All lives matter’