Judge says no death penalty for mom in triple murder case

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A woman charged with conspiracy and murder in connection with the deaths of her two children and her new husband’s late wife will no longer face the death penalty, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Lori Vallow Daybell is scheduled to stand trial starting April 3.

Both she and Chad Daybell — her newest husband — have pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy and grand theft charges in connection with the deaths of Vallow Daybell’s children — 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, and Tylee Ryan, who was last seen a few days before her 17th birthday. They are also charged in connection with the October 2019 death of Chad Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

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Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for both defendants, but Vallow Daybell’s attorneys said it should be taken off the table in her case because they will not have time to fully review a large amount of evidence that was turned over in recent weeks.

During a Tuesday morning hearing, 7th District Judge Steven Boyce agreed. He noted that Vallow Daybell has not waived her right to a speedy trial, so the proceeding could not be rescheduled to give her defense team ample time to review the evidence.

The death penalty still applies to Chad Daybell’s case, however.

Prosecutors say the couple used doomsday-focused religious beliefs to further a plan to kill the kids and Tammy Daybell, and that it was part of a plot to steal social security funds and insurance money.

Idaho law enforcement officers started investigating the couple in November 2019 after extended family members reported that the children were missing. During that period, police say the couple lied about the children’s whereabouts. Their bodies were found buried later on Chad Daybell’s property in rural Idaho.

The couple married just two weeks after Chad Daybell’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell, died unexpectedly. Tammy Daybell’s death was initially reported as due to natural causes, but investigators had her body exhumed after growing suspicious when Chad Daybell quickly remarried.

Vallow Daybell is separately charged with conspiracy to commit murder in Arizona in connection with the July 2019 death of her previous husband, Charles Vallow. He was shot and killed by Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, who claimed it was self-defense.

The Arizona legal proceedings are on hold while the Idaho case is underway.

Oregon renters voice concern over Senate bill on rent increases

Oregon Senate Bill 611 is causing some panic among renters.

Stable Homes, which is a coalition of housing advocates, held a Zoom conference call Tuesday to allow tenants from around the state to call on lawmakers to take action against what they call a high-rent crisis.

Residents call the prices “predatory.”

RELATED: Inflation means Oregon rent bill to have biggest impact yet in 2023

The bill would set limits on rent increases but not on hikes between tenants.

One Bend resident says high rent makes it impossible for working people to live in our community.

The bill will be heard on Monday.

What caused Portland suburbanite to create a NSFW shrub outside her home?

A NSFW (Not Safe For Work) shurb in a Portland suburb is getting a lot of attention for its unique look.

The 12-foot tall “Chub Shrub” has been around for a couple of years, but just got some widespread publicity by The Oregonian. The reason? It’s been trimmed to appear like a circumcised penis.

And, yes. The owner is fully aware of what it looks like.

“I was out there trimming the thing with a 24-inch bar on my hedger thinking, ‘I’m 90% of the way there, why not today?’” Lynn Stanek told The Oregonian.

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Stanek said it was something she had thought about doing for some 20 years. In April of 2021, she went for it. 

Before making the cuts, Stanek said she consulted with neighbors to make sure nobody would be up in arms over it.

That being said, someone started a Change.org petition to have it removed, saying “This neighborhood has 2 schools, a high school and an elementary school, within 2 blocks of this display! This is NOT family friendly, nor is it a representation of the people in our community!” 

So why did Stanek do it? According to The Oregonian, Stanek said she was just fed up with almost everything during a time of the COVID-19 pandemic and American politics. Stanek told the paper her creation captured her feelings at the time.

Of course, Stanek decorates the Chub Shrub for holidays and other special occasions. Sometimes with lights. Sometimes with lights doing things that take the NSFW label one step further.

We won’t go into too much detail here. You can look for yourself at the Tualatin Chub Shrub Facebook page.


Oregon bill on abortion, gender-affirming care sparks debate

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon bill that would greatly expand access to reproductive health and gender-affirming care drew emotional testimony on Monday, mirroring the culture war debates over abortion, gender identity and parents’ rights that are playing out in state legislatures across the U.S.

The room at the state Capitol in Salem, where the public hearing was held, was packed to capacity and a long line of people snaked down the hallway. Dozens submitted written testimony and dozens more testified in person, with supporters describing abortion and gender-affirming care as life-saving and opponents taking issue with provisions that would make it easier for minors to access certain services without parental consent.

RELATED: Idaho House passes ban on gender-affirming medical care

Abortion remains legal at all stages of pregnancy in Oregon and its state Medicaid program has covered certain gender-affirming care since 2015. But Democratic lawmakers said the measure was needed to push back against the flurry of anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ legislation moving through statehouses across the country.

“Someone I know and love, someone you know and love, may need an abortion or gender-affirming care someday,” Democratic House Speaker Dan Rayfield testified. “People should have the right to make their own decisions on their own health care with medical professionals, without fear of harm.”

The bill would implement a wide-ranging series of measures, including shielding providers and patients from criminal and civil liability as states have moved to outlaw abortion following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year. It would also allow a person to bring a civil action in court against a public body for interfering with their reproductive health rights.

The bill would also prohibit medical licensing boards from suspending, revoking or refusing to grant a license to a provider because of a conviction or disciplinary action for providing reproductive or gender-affirming health care in states where that care is restricted.

The parts of the bill that have proved to be the most contentious have to do with minors. Under the legislation, doctors would be allowed to provide reproductive health care information and services, including abortion, “to any person without regard to the age,” and would bar them in certain cases from disclosing that to parents.

Democratic state Sen. Kate Lieber, a chief sponsor of the bill, said this would help protect young people living in unsupportive families.

“LGBTQ youth in particular have a very high rate of suicide,” she testified. “It is really important to listen to the children who are telling us what they’re feeling and how they are being in this world.”

Critics said this would exclude parents from key aspects of their child’s health care.

“One of the most beautiful relationships in the universe is a parent to a child,” Republican state Rep. Emily McIntire testified. “This bill goes to the very core of a family unit.”

The legislation would also require private insurance to cover gender-affirming care that is prescribed as medically necessary. In written testimony, some members of the public supporting this measure named it as especially critical for transgender people.

“The fact that I could get gender-affirming care that was covered by insurance meant that I did not have to choose between necessary medical procedures, or risk bankruptcy or homelessness to be who I am,” said Oregon resident SueZeev Ranseen, who is transgender. “Without gender affirming care, I would not be alive.”

The bill would also make it a crime to block access to a health care facility, and require public universities and community colleges with health centers to provide emergency contraception and medication abortions.

Lawmakers will further discuss the bill and propose amendments during a House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care work session next week.

Recall: Frozen organic fruit products sold at Costco, Trader Joe’s

Gresham-based Scenic Fruit Company is recalling frozen “Organic Strawberries”  sold at Costco and other outlets and “Organic Tropical Fruit Blend” sold at Trader Joe’s due to an outbreak of hepatitis A, the Oregon Health Authority has announced.

There have been five reported cases of hepatitis A reported in Washington state, in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports all patients mentioned having eaten frozen organic strawberries. There have been no definitive cases in Oregon linked to the outbreak, but OHA said it is working to determine if anyone diagnosed with hepatitis A here consumed these products.

The following products are subject to the recall:

Brand Name

Product Name

Net Weight


Best By Date

Distributed in States

Simply Nature

Organic Strawberries

24 oz.



Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Vital Choice

Organic Strawberries

16 oz.




Kirkland Signature

Organic Strawberries

4 lbs.



Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington

Made With

Organic Strawberries

10 oz.



Illinois, Maryland

PCC Community Markets

Organic Strawberries

32 oz.


29/10/2024 (as printed on package)


Trader Joe’s

Organic Tropical Fruit Blend Pineapple, Bananas, Strawberries & Mango

16 oz.


04/25/24, 05/12/24, 05/23/24, 05/30/24, 06/07/24


Here is more from an OHA press release:

Five outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Washington since March 13. The five cases occurred between November 11 and December 27, 2022, and two individuals required hospitalization. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone reported eating frozen organic strawberries.

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Although no patients with hepatitis A in Oregon have been definitively linked to the consumption of these products, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) officials are monitoring the outbreak in Washington. In addition, OHA is interviewing persons diagnosed with hepatitis A to determine if any have consumed frozen berries.

“Since these products were available in Oregon stores, we want to let people know about them so they can take steps to protect themselves and their families,” said Ann Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., a public health physician in OHA’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section. “At this point, OHA is carefully investigating any new cases of hepatitis A virus to determine if they are associated with the outbreak, but we have not yet been able to link any Oregon cases to these products.”

The company has ceased the production and distribution of the product as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the company continue their investigation into what caused the problem. In addition, the company is removing all inventories of the affected lot from sale.

“The company is voluntarily recalling the affected products and cooperating with the FDA,” said Karel Smit, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Program manager. “The purpose of the recall is to remove the products from commerce and prevent the public from consuming potentially affected products.”

Although no hepatitis A virus has been found in the products, consumers should stop eating the product, and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund, or throw it away. Consumers with questions may contact the company at customer.service@scenicfruit.com.

Thomas said, “People who believe they’ve gotten sick from consuming frozen strawberries purchased at Costco or Trader Joe’s should contact a health care provider.”

Since 2014, Oregon has seen an average of 20 cases a year, with 2020 having the highest number at 29. Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), tiredness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (frequent watery bowel movements), dark urine, and light-colored bowel movements.

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Hepatitis A infection can result in hospitalization. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have a mild illness that can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can be highly infectious. People with symptoms suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician immediately, even if symptoms are mild.

For information about the national hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries, visit the CDC website. General information about hepatitis A is available on OHA’s and CDC’s websites.

Idaho poised to allow firing-squad executions in some cases

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is poised to allow firing squads to execute condemned inmates when the state can’t get lethal-injection drugs, under a bill the Legislature passed Monday with a veto-proof majority.

Firing squads will be used only if the state cannot obtain the drugs needed for lethal injections — and one death row inmate has already had his scheduled execution postponed multiple times because of drug scarcity.

Idaho previously had a firing squad option on the books but has never used it. The option was removed from state law in 2009 after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a method of lethal injection that was commonly used at the time.

Only Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina currently have laws allowing firing squads if other execution methods are unavailable, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. A judge has put South Carolina’s law on hold until a lawsuit challenging the method is resolved.

Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, has voiced his support for the death penalty but generally does not comment on legislation before he signs or vetoes it.

Sen. Doug Ricks, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill, told his fellow senators on Monday that the state’s difficulty in finding lethal injection drugs could continue “indefinitely” and that he believes death by firing squad is “humane.”

“This is a rule of law issue — our criminal system should work and penalties should be exacted,” Ricks said.

But Sen. Dan Foreman, also a Republican, said firing-squad executions would traumatize the people who who carry them out, the people who witness them and the people who clean up afterward.

“I’ve seen the aftermath of shootings, and it’s psychologically damaging to anybody who witnesses it,” Foreman said. “The use of the firing squad is, in my opinion, beneath the dignity of the state of Idaho.”

The bill originated with Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug, prompted in part by the state’s inability to execute Gerald Pizzuto Jr. late last year. Pizzuto, who now has terminal cancer and other debilitating illnesses, has spent more than three decades on death row for his role in the 1985 slayings of two gold prospectors.

The Idaho Department of Correction estimates that it will cost around $750,000 to build or retrofit a death chamber for firing squad executions.

Idaho Department of Correction Director Jeff Tewalt last year told lawmakers there would likely be as many legal challenges to planned firing squad executions as there are to lethal injections. At the time, he said he would be reluctant to ask his staffers to participate in a firing squad.

“I don’t feel, as the director of the Idaho Department of Correction, the compulsion to ask my staff to do that,” Tewalt said.

Both Tewalt and his former co-worker Kevin Kempf played a key role in obtaining the drugs used in the 2012 execution of Richard Albert Leavitt, flying to Tacoma, Washington, with more than $15,000 in cash to buying them from a pharmacist. The trip was carefully kept secret by the department but revealed in court documents after University of Idaho professor Aliza Cover sued for the information under a public records act.

Kempf was promoted to lead the Idaho Department of Correction two years later but now is the executive director of the Correctional Leaders Association. He said the execution process is always challenging for all involved, including the family members of victims. Those challenges could be amplified in firing squad executions, he said.

“I’ve got to say at the same time, my thoughts go to staff members that may have to carry out something, per law, that looks like putting someone to death,” Kempf told the AP during a phone interview earlier this month. “That is nothing I would assume any correctional director would take lightly, asking someone-slash-ordering someone to do that.”

Researchers: Inbreeding a big problem for endangered orcas

SEATTLE (AP) — People have taken many steps in recent decades to help the Pacific Northwest’s endangered killer whales, which have long suffered from starvation, pollution and the legacy of having many of their number captured for display in marine parks.

They’ve breached dikes and removed dams to create wetland habitat for Chinook salmon, the orcas’ most important food. They’ve limited commercial fishing to try to ensure prey for the whales. They’ve made boats slow down and keep farther away from the animals to reduce their stress and to quiet the waters so they can better hunt.

So far, those efforts have had limited success, and research published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution suggests why: The whales are so inbred that they are dying younger and their population is not recovering. Female killer whales take about 20 years to reach peak fertility, and the females may not be living long enough to ensure the growth of their population.

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While that news sounds grim for the revered orcas — known as the “southern resident” killer whales — it also underscores the urgency of conservation efforts, said Kim Parsons, a geneticist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NOAA Fisheries who co-authored the study. The population is not necessarily doomed, she said.

“It’s not often inbreeding itself that will result in a shortened lifespan or kill an individual,” Parsons said. “It’s really that inbreeding makes these individuals more vulnerable to disease or environmental factors. We can support the population by supporting the environment and giving them the best chance possible.”

The struggles of the charismatic population of orcas that frequent the waters between Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia have been well documented — including in 2018, when one grieving mother carried her stillborn calf for 17 days in an apparent effort to mourn or revive it.

The southern resident population comprises three clans of whales known as the J, K and L pods. They are socially distinct and even communicate differently from other orca populations, including the nearby northern residents, which are listed as threatened and which primarily range from Vancouver Island up to southeast Alaska.

While the southern residents’ range overlaps with other populations of killer whales, they haven’t regularly interbred in 30 generations, the researchers said.

In the 1960s and 1970s, dozens of Pacific Northwest whales were caught for display in marine theme parks. The whale-capture industry argued that there were many orcas in the sea, and that some could be sustainably caught.

At least 13 orcas died in the roundups, and 45 were delivered to theme parks around the world — reducing the southern resident population by about 40%. The brutality of the captures began to draw public outcry and a lawsuit to stop them in Washington state.

Today only 73 southern residents remain, according to the Center for Whale Research on Washington state’s San Juan Island. That’s just two more than in 1971. Of those captured, only one — 56-year-old Lolita, at the Miami Seaquarium — survives. The Seaquarium announced last year it would no longer feature Lolita in shows.

Prior studies have suggested that inbreeding was a problem, including a 2018 study that found just two males had fathered more than half the calves born to the southern residents since 1990.

For the new research, NOAA geneticist Marty Kardos, Parsons and other colleagues sequenced the genomes of 100 living and dead southern residents, including 90% of those alive now. Those whales had lower levels of genetic diversity and higher levels of inbreeding than other populations of killer whales in the North Pacific, they found.

The capture of the whales decades ago, as well as the geographic or social isolation of the animals, likely explains the inbreeding, the researchers said.

Meanwhile, conservation efforts have helped other North Pacific orca populations thrive. The northern resident killer whales have increased from about 122 animals in 1974 to more than 300 by 2018. Like the southern residents, they only eat fish, primarily salmon — unlike many other killer whales, which eat mammals such as seals.

The Alaska resident killer whale population is estimated to have doubled from 1984 to 2010. According to the researchers, the southern residents would likely be on a similar trajectory if not for their elevated levels of inbreeding.

Inbreeding has also afflicted other populations of isolated or endangered animals, such as mountain lions in California, gorillas in Africa and bottle nose dolphins off western Australia. In some cases, scientists may be able to improve the gene pool in one population by capturing and introducing animals from another.

That’s not the case for orcas, which are massive and free-swimming. Further, the southern residents already have opportunities to interbreed — they just haven’t done so, Parsons said.

“We really have to leave it to those whales to mate with whom they choose and support the population in other ways,” Parsons said.

With overdoses up, Oregon and other states look at harsher fentanyl penalties

RENO, Nev. (AP) — State lawmakers nationwide are responding to the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history by pushing harsher penalties for possessing fentanyl and other powerful lab-made opioids that are connected to about 70,000 deaths a year.

Imposing longer prison sentences for possessing smaller amounts of drugs represents a shift in states that in recent years have rolled back drug possession penalties. Proponents of tougher penalties say this crisis is different and that, in most places, the stiffer sentences are intended to punish drug dealers, not just users.

“There is no other drug — no other illicit drug — that has the same type of effects on our communities,” said Mark Jackson, the district attorney for Douglas County, Nevada, and president of the Nevada District Attorneys Association, which is pushing for stricter penalties for fentanyl-related crimes.

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But the strategy is alarming recovery advocates who say focusing on the criminal angle of drugs has historically backfired, including when lawmakers elevated crack cocaine penalties in the 1980s.

“Every time we treat drugs as a law enforcement problem and push stricter laws, we find that we punish people in ways that destroy their lives and make it harder for them to recover later on,” said Adam Wandt, an assistant professor of public policy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He said people behind bars often continue getting drugs — often without receiving quality addiction treatment — then emerge to find it’s harder to get work.

Since 2020, drug overdoses are now linked to more than 100,000 deaths a year nationally, with about two-thirds of them fentanyl-related. That’s more than 10 times as many drug deaths as in 1988, at the height of the crack epidemic.

Fentanyl mostly arrives in the U.S. from Mexico and is mixed into supplies of other drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and counterfeit oxycodone pills. Some users seek it out. Others don’t know they’re taking it.

Ingesting 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, meaning 1 gram — about the same as a paper clip — could contain 500 lethal doses.

That’s what’s driving some lawmakers to crack down with harsh penalties, along with adopting measures such as legalizing materials to test drug supplies for fentanyl and distributing naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses.

Before this year’s legislative sessions began, a dozen states had already adopted fentanyl possession measures, according to tracking by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

And in this year, in one legislative chamber of liberal Oregon and one chamber of conservative West Virginia, lawmakers have agreed upon tougher penalties. In her State of the State speech this March, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, called on lawmakers to adopt a drug trafficking bill that includes tougher fentanyl sentences.

In Nevada, where Democrats control the Legislature, a bill backed by Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford would give one to 20 years in prison for selling, possessing, manufacturing or transporting 4 grams or more of fentanyl into the state, depending on the amount. It’s a change for Ford, who has supported criminal justice reforms including a sweeping 2019 law that, among other provisions, raised the threshold for such penalties to 100 grams. It would also remove fentanyl from the state’s “Good Samaritan” law, which exempts people from criminal drug possession charges while reporting an overdose.

“What we’ve learned is that lowering the thresholds for all drugs was overinclusive,” Ford said.

Harm reduction advocates are pushing Ford and others to rethink their support, arguing the thresholds for longer penalties can sweep up low-level users — not just the dealers the law is aimed at — as well as some who may not even know they are taking fentanyl. They warn that the state’s crime labs test only for the presence of fentanyl, not the exact amount in a mixture of drugs. Thus, people with over 4 grams of drugs containing a few milligrams of fentanyl could be subject to trafficking penalties, they say.

Rosa Johnson runs a needle exchange where she meets people who could face consequences should the stricter fentanyl bill pass. For the dozens of people that show up each day, it is rare for them to cite fentanyl as their “drug of choice.” But it’s also rare that fentanyl test strips come back negative, with the drug being “laced in a lot of things,” Johnson said.

Other lawmakers introduced two bills to create penalties for fentanyl with lower thresholds, though much of the internal debate surrounds the Ford-backed bill. Meanwhile, Nevada’s Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, a former sheriff, has vowed to introduce tougher legislation that would make possession of any amount of fentanyl the same felony threshold as fentanyl trafficking.

Both Republican-led chambers in South Carolina have passed fentanyl trafficking measures with bipartisan support, although lawmakers haven’t agreed on which version to send the governor. Senators also unanimously approved a bill allowing alleged drug dealers to be charged with homicide in overdose deaths.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford slammed colleagues for selling a “false bill of goods.” While Republican Rep. Doug Gilliam said he understood concerns about ambiguity, he said lawmakers had to send a “strong message” to drug dealers.

A Senate subcommittee heard emotional testimony from family members of people who died of a fentanyl overdose. Among them was Holly Alsobrooks, co-founder of an advocacy group that also supports more fentanyl test strips, opioid antidotes and rehabilitation centers. While Alsobrooks said there is no “perfect” solution, she said the fentanyl trafficking measures are the “best” answers she has heard.

“We are fully behind this bill,” she said. “And if people go to jail, they’re going to go to jail.”

Marc Burrows, who leads a Greenville-based harm reduction program that reports it has reversed 700 overdoses through the provision of opioid antidotes, said these bills could increase deaths by creating hesitancy among drug users to report overdoses.

“I just don’t know if a policy like this is the way to do it,” Burrows said.

Idaho robbery suspect killed in Montana after hostage shot

ST. REGIS, Mont. (AP) — A suspect in an Idaho armed robbery was killed by law enforcement after shooting a hostage near a travel center in western Montana, authorities said.

Two suspects involved in the Saturday morning robbery in Osburn, Idaho were seen by witnesses later that day in St. Regis, Montana, the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office said.

One suspect was taken into custody without incident. The second suspect took a hostage near the travel center and shot the hostage before the suspect was shot and killed by law enforcement, the sheriff’s office said.

The hostage was transported to a hospital in Missoula for treatment of unspecified injuries. The suspect’s body as sent to the Montana State Crime Lab for an autopsy.

The Sanders County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol also were involved in the shooting.

California to ask voters to approve new mental health beds

SAN DIEGO (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest plan for the state’s homelessness crisis asks voters to fund a major expansion of housing and treatment for residents suffering from mental illness and addiction.

Newsom announced Sunday that he will ask allies in the Democratic-controlled Legislature for a measure on the 2024 ballot to authorize funding to build residential facilities where over 10,000 people a year could live and be treated.

The plan is the latest by the governor who took office in 2019 vowing to own the issue of homelessness in a state where an estimated 171,000 were unhoused last year.