Executive Constantine gave the 2020 State of the County Address on Friday. Topics included the County’s response to COVID-19 plus new actions in human services, the criminal legal system, and the environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, and as we face a second surge in cases today, DCHS’ crisis response work continues. The State of the County provided a moment of pause to reflect on our early action and results. We know our community needs DCHS’ services more than ever today. We’re committed to continuing to provide all our services and more to save even more lives as this pandemic rages on.
A few highlights Executive Constantine shared in his speech include:
By the Numbers: COVID-19 in King County (as of 7/24)
- 12,000+ confirmed cases in King County
- 1,700+ people hospitalized with severe illness
- 600+ lives lost before their time
- 10,000+ of our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones, are alive today as a result of quick, decisive action
- 1,400 people and families received a private, quiet, and secure place to stay and recover
DCHS COVID-19 Response Highlights:
Executive Constantine shared how the County and DCHS moved quickly to create isolation, quarantine and recovery spaces for those who didn’t need hospitalization but could not safely stay at home:
“We leased vacant hotels in Issaquah, Bellevue, Renton, Sea-Tac and Seattle, and we purchased a Kent motel.
We put up large tents on a Shoreline soccer field and on vacant county property in Eastgate, converted a SoDo warehouse, and set up modular shelters in Interbay and North Seattle.
We gave almost 1,400 people and families a private, quiet, and secure place to stay and recover – and we saved lives.”
He also shared all the ways the County worked to de-intensify larger homeless shelters, where we were concerned the virus might rapidly spread, and the promising results from two of these actions:
Renton Red Lion:
“We moved residents from group shelter at the Morrison Hotel on Third Avenue, to individual rooms in a hotel on Grady Way.
Once they got a place of their own, this is what we found: shelter residents who for years had struggled with the most basic needs began to stabilize. They were able to secure their belongings, get a full night’s sleep, take a hot shower in the morning, do their laundry. A few clients landed jobs. Several began fitness regimens. Behavioral health emergencies declined precipitously.
In contrast to the grave danger of infection in a congregate setting, there have been more that 300 COVID tests at the Renton hotel – and not a single infection.”
Eagle Village in SoDo:
“We purchased mobile housing units formerly used for oil-workers in Texas, and we transported them to Metro property in SoDo, and, along with the Chief Seattle Club, opened Eagle Village, the first housing tailored specifically to the needs of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, who are tragically over-represented in the homeless population.
One resident, Matthew Upham, is Nez Perce, Lummi, Oglala and Filipino. He said he spent much of his life struggling with addiction and homelessness. He came to Eagle Village, and with the stability he found there he was able to stay in recovery, to work at a carwash, and to study real estate courses. He recently passed his tests, and he is now preparing to work at a mortgage company, a new life ready to begin.”
As Executive Constantine made clear, DCHS’ swift response to COVID-19 led by Director Leo Flor, is working, which is why we remain committed to doing all that we have been and more to support King County residents as the pandemic continues, and beyond.
Best Starts for Kids Highlights:
Executive Constantine also reiterated, “Racism is a public health crisis,” and that the County’s groundbreaking effort, Best Starts for Kids, is “one of the commitments we’ve made in King County to overcome inequities that encumber a newborn child.”
As our children face two crises—Racism and COVID-19—the support Best Starts for Kids’ provides to uplift our children who are historically underserved is critical.
The following excerpt from Executive Constantine’s address highlights the work of Best Starts for Kids and its community-based partners.
“Since the inception of the Best Starts for Kids levy four years ago, we have partnered with more than 280 community organizations and invested in more than 480 programs, reaching nearly a quarter million children, youth and families.
As part of this work:
−Families received more than three million basic necessities like diapers, clothes, baby formula, car seats, and fresh fruits and vegetables…
−More than 7,000 young people have engaged in programming ranging from leadership development to learning how to build and sustain healthy relationships…
−Our “Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention” investments helped nearly 10,000 people stay in their homes by providing housing assistance and resolving conflicts with landlords, along with connections to good jobs…
Next year I will ask voters to renew Best Starts for Kids, and we should build on our successful work helping young people with childcare, staying in school, and navigating the difficult transition to young adulthood.
We make these and other investments because they reflect our priorities and our values.
Our goal is a King County that works not just for those who are born to money, or born white, or born here, but one where all are welcome and, through hard work and determination, can thrive.”
Watch Executive Constantine’s 2020 State of the County Address here.