Point-in-Time count cancelled
For the first time since 1980, Seattle will not count the number of people living outdoors, out of fear it could spread coronavirus among volunteers and unsheltered people.
King County usually counts people living outdoors once a year. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires every county in the U.S. to conduct the count every two years. Though the method is imperfect, the data collected is used to measure progress in the fight against homlessness and make decisions about funding and policies around homelessness.
HUD allowed King County to cancel the count this year, along with Skagit County. Austin and Los Angeles have cancelled their counts, and San Francisco and Portland have requested waivers.
Not all agree that the count is impossible. A report authored by three University of Pennsylvania researchers and published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness suggests counting unsheltered people during the pandemic can be done with some changes.
Capitol riot, local connections
A pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 while Congress worked to certify the electoral college win for Joe Biden. The mob claimed the election was stolen and demanded the whereabouts of lawmakers.
At least two Seattle police officers were placed on administrative leave after social media photos showed they were in Washington, D.C., on the day of the riot. Seattle Police Department’s Office of Police Accountability is investigating whether they participated in the riots. If officers participated, they will be fired, SPD Chief Adrian Diaz said.
Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, was widely criticized by city officials and former SPD Chief Carmen Best after suggesting on Twitter that the Black Lives Matter movement was partly to blame for the Capitol riots.
Hundreds of armed protesters demonstrated on the steps of the state capitol in Olympia the same day as the Washington, D.C., riot. Some broke through the gate of the Governor’s mansion.
Gov. Jay Inslee said the riots in D.C. and the state capitol were “completely unacceptable and will not be repeated in our state capitol again.”
The state legislature started its session on Monday. While the session will be held remotely, legislators needed to meet in person in order to authorize a remote session.
Inslee authorized up to 750 members of the state National Guard to be in Olympia to protect legislators, staff and buildings, coordinating with Washington State Patrol and local police, Inslee’s office announced.
On Monday the FBI warned of armed protests in all 50 state capitols and again in Washington, D.C., this week and lasting through the presidential inauguration, the Associated Press reported.
Read more of the Jan. 13-19, 2021 issue.