The number of older adults in King County is growing every year. By the year 2040, nearly a quarter of King County’s population will be at least 65 years old. Healthy lifestyles and social engagement are keys to living long and living well. King County is acting now to improve the quality of life for older adults throughout the region, thanks to the voter-approved Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy.
To ensure healthy aging is possible for our local older adults, now and in the future, King County Executive Dow Constantine moved to add significant funding for older adult services to the ballot measure renewing the levy last year. In November 2017, King County voters approved that levy by more than 68 percent, creating new funding to support local senior centers, housing development, housing repair and other services for older adults and their caregivers.
An approved Transition Plan guides the Levy’s activities during 2018, while a broader Implementation Plan for 2019–2023 is being considered by the County Council. This countywide levy is distinct from support that the City of Seattle has historically provided to older adults at Seattle Senior Centers and other agencies in its role as King County’s Area Agency on Aging.
New funding for senior centers
The Transition Plan contains more than $3 million in new funding for senior centers countywide, in addition to funding for technical assistance and capacity building. King County’s Department of Community and Human Services will release a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for senior centers to apply for these funds in April. The RFQ will use a definition of “senior center” that includes traditional senior centers and community centers or other agencies that provide a significant amount of programming for older adults. The 2018 Senior Center bid process will be a single, one-time investment that lays the groundwork for future enhancements in providing older adult services in King County.
For 2018, the County will make one-time investments in four areas to support senior centers countywide. The areas of investment include:
1. Increase Participation and Diversity—Translating materials and improving outreach and other activities that promote and welcome participation by more diverse groups of older adults, particularly for underserved older populations, isolated and homebound older adults. Incentives will be included to promote partnerships with smaller senior nutrition sites.
2. Update Organizational Infrastructure—One-time funding so agencies can invest in:
- Digital infrastructure such as hardware or software, to help programs run more efficiently and generate data to help senior centers make data-informed decisions and tell their stories to funders and communities
- Establishing protocols to support future programming, improve or enhance basic services, or provide center staff with tools or trainings to better serve their clients
- Building age-friendly community supports in one-time projects such as developing a Village Model-type database of volunteers and approved vendors to provide services at older adults’ homes (yard work, plumbing, electrical, painting, etc.).
3. Minor Capital Investments to Enhance or Maintain the Facility—Provide one year of flexible funding to support:
- Facility repairs, maintenance or small capital projects
- Increased safety and accessibility such as floor repairs, restroom updates, and maintenance on vehicles that provide transportation for participants
4. Enhance Programming—Provide one year of flexible funding to enable programs to enrich their traditional senior center services such as wellness and fitness, recreation and socialization, social services, and outreach.
King County is excited to kick off the first of its new funding for older adult services. Questions about the 2018 King County Senior Center RFQ or program eligibility can be directed to Marcy Kubbs at Marcy.Kubbs@kingcounty.gov.