Last year marked the launch of King County’s six-year Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL). The renewed and expanded levy builds on the success of the 2006-2017 Veterans and Human Services Levy and expands to include for the first-time dedicated funding for seniors and their caregivers. VSHSL features far-reaching investments in housing and increases support for survivors of gender-based violence, people with disabilities, rural residents and immigrants and refugees.
In 2018, our progress was a direct result of the passion and dedication of our community partners and stakeholders and the unwavering commitment of our service providers. We are proud to share the 2018 Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy Annual Report, which highlights key milestones and emerging outcomes from VSHSL’s foundation-laying year.
VSHSL programs and strategies are focused on achieving results in five areas. The results areas – Housing Stability, Financial Stability, Social Engagement, Healthy Living, and Service System Access and Improvement – were informed by extensive community input and strive to make community-level change for VSHSL’s three priority populations: veterans and servicemembers and their respective families; seniors and their caregivers; and vulnerable populations.
In a five-part series we will share the stories of those impacted by investments in VSHSL’s 5 result areas in 2018. Read below to meet William and Yoshiko whose new roof, repaired by King County’s Housing Repair Program, kept their home safe and accessible, helping them remain in their home and community.
William and Yoshiko
William, 88, always knew he wanted to serve. After the Marine Corps told him he was too young, he joined the Army and began his service in post-World War II Okinawa, Japan, helping to reclaim the bodies of fallen Japanese soldiers who had died in the service of their country. Then came Korea. As a combat infantry soldier, William suffered such serious wounds that doctors thought they were fatal. But they were wrong. After a lengthy hospital stay, he returned to the battlefield to join his fellow soldiers and was later awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his actions in combat. There was a bright side to his years in Asia. During his service in Japan, William met Yoshiko—who had also witnessed her fair share of war.
Now a married couple of over 60 years, William and Yoshiko have raised a family and served the greater community by working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for many years. In July 2018, the Housing Repair Program used VSHSL funds to provide a new roof for William and Yoshiko’s home, which had been damaged in a severe wind storm earlier in the year. The home lies in a peaceful corner of Kent surrounded by flowering Rhododendrons and plants. William and Yoshiko no longer worry about leaks and the risk of costly water damage and can continue to grow older in the home where they have built countless memories.
A Place to Thrive From
Gaining and maintaining housing was one of the most pressing concerns throughout the VSHSL renewal process. In response, in 2018, half of VSHSL funding was invested in housing stability programs.
Programs included creating new affordable housing units, providing legal services to veterans for housing counseling services and benefits access, promoting home ownership, providing supportive housing and education to parents released from incarceration and many more—programs that work to help King County residents stay and thrive in the communities of their choice.
Read the 2018 VSHSL Annual Report to learn more about VSHSL’s housing stability investments.