This week, Executive Constantine proposed the Implementation Plan to the King County Council for the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy (VSHSL). The VSHSL Implementation Plan is a strategy-by-strategy plan that details how Executive Constantine intends to invest the 2024-2029 VSHSL proceeds in King County’s communities to improve overall health and well-being, help communities thrive, and reduce disparities throughout King County.
In August, over 71 percent of King County voters approved the VSHSL for the fourth time, the highest approval rating in the levy’s history, reaffirming the region’s commitment to King County’s veterans, seniors, and resilient communities.
“The approval of the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy, confirms our shared values and underscores the importance of our region’s veterans, seniors, and resilient communities. The plan the Executive proposed sets out strategies to achieve results for these populations over the next six years on financial stability, housing stability, healthy living, social engagement, and access to services. We look forward to working with the levy’s valued community partners to bring to life the programs and services proposed by Executive Constantine. Together, we can continue the work to make a meaningful impact in communities across King County,” said Leon Richardson, DCHS Adult Services Division Director.
“The Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy provides essential programs and services to our most vulnerable community members – whether its meals for low-income seniors, helping veterans secure housing, or supporting survivors of domestic violence,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “Thanks to this voter-approved funding, we can help those who most need our assistance.”
The proposed investments in the VSHSL Implementation Plan address issues and trends affecting veterans, seniors, and resilient communities. For veterans, these include building the nation’s strongest local veteran’s program, reducing veteran homelessness, supporting wellness through community, and strengthening mental health care. For seniors, the VSHSL seeks to expand accessibility of social connection to counter the effects of isolation, address the shortage of paid caregivers, and modernize senior centers. The VSHSL strengthens communities and builds resiliency by deepening investments in critical workforce, community-centered programming for survivors of gender-based violence, crisis response, language access, system navigation, and connection to trained and caring support staff.
King County Executive Dow Constantine’s proposed VSHSL investments include:
- Human Services workforce stabilization: King County’s human services network is made up of the people and organizations addressing the most pressing issues we face as a region—providing shelter and supportive housing, behavioral health treatment, education and employment access, and case management. Investments in the human services workforce help workers live in the communities they serve, sustain careers, and attain mastery in difficult and essential community services. This investment aims to improve staff recruitment and retention for nonprofit organizations providing human services in King County.
- Veteran housing supports: Services supporting stable housing for veterans and their families, including operating an affordable housing veteran facility, housing navigation and related stabilization services to veteran households experiencing homelessness, and housing connections facilitated through the Collaborative Case Management program for underserved veterans, are included in the proposed plan.
- Stabilizing and transforming senior centers: Senior centers in King County, including community centers with significant senior-focused programming or specific senior programs, are important but often under-resourced. Through this funding, senior centers can continue to be inclusive, vibrant places that serve as access points to critical services for the full diversity of seniors in the community.
- Community supports for people with disabilities: The proposed plan includes system navigation and community building to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities reflecting the full diversity of King County. This investment looks at holistic approaches informed by the voices of people with disabilities. Investments include, but are not limited to, early intervention, employment services, housing, civic engagement, internship, education, and training. Services may also support caregivers.
- Countywide gender-based violence and trafficking prevention: The proposed plan includes programming and initiatives designed to prevent all forms of gender-based violence and human trafficking, including but not limited to domestic violence, sexual assault, and commercial sexual exploitation. These investments aim to strengthen prevention programs, build community relationships, and tailor strategies geographically and throughout culturally diverse communities in King County.
Since 2005, the VSHSL has helped families transition to affordable housing, get job training, find employment, access emergency financial assistance, obtain domestic violence advocacy, receive behavioral health treatment, and make connections to critical services.
Since 2018, the VSHSL has served more than 185,000 people, including more than 27,000 veterans, servicemembers, or their families and more than 100,000 seniors. The VSHSL has contributed to a 40 percent reduction in veteran households experiencing homelessness in King County between 2017 and 2022, funded 39 senior centers to serve more than 28,000 each year since the program launched in 2020, and funded 675 retention bonuses for workers at 55 community-based agencies to help stabilize the human services workforce.
This week, the King County Executive’s proposed Implementation Plan will be available on the King County Council’s website. The King County Council will consider this plan in various committees, including the Regional Policy Committee over the next several weeks and may amend it before voting on adoption. Once the Implementation Plan is adopted, King County DCHS will begin procuring for VSHSL programs and services. DCHS’ Adult Services Division intends to post funding opportunities beginning in early in 2024 and throughout the year. Funding opportunities will be posted on the VSHSL website, DCHS blog, Cultivating Connections, and in the VSHSL newsletter.