In 2017, King County voters approved a renewed and expanded Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL). The expanded levy created new, dedicated funding to support older people in King County and their caregivers. King County staff from the Department of Community and Human Services lead the process to implement the VSHSL.
As part of VSHSL’s Transition Plan in 2018, the VSHSL invested $3.5 million in one-time stabilization funds to 38 senior centers throughout King County. Investments helped senior centers enhance programs to reach more local seniors, make their facilities safer and more accessible, and purchase equipment and appliances. These improvements have and continue to play a major role in building local, culturally appropriate capacity to serve people 55 and older and their caregivers and in increasing access and inclusion for more older adults in our community.
Vibrant senior centers that welcome the full diversity of King County also mean better health outcomes for our seniors, as social isolation correlates with poorer health. Increased access to senior center programming and resources also helps seniors increase their housing and financial stability.
Senior center improvements in 2018 ranged from installing hearing loops, automatic doors, and air conditioning, to updating roofs, floors, and windows, and purchase of appliances and other equipment. Investments in stronger data systems, transportation services for homebound adults, the introduction of diversity workshops, and translation of materials for non-native English speakers are all improvements made through 2018 VSHSL investments.
For information on specific investments funded by 2018 VSHSL senior center stabilization funds, click here.
The Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy will continue to support older King County residents through strategies in five focus areas: Housing Stability, Financial Stability, Social Engagement, Healthy Living, and Service System Access and Improvement. Find more information on the strategies that guide VSHSL investments in the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy Implementation Plan.
King County established a VSHSL Advisory Board in September 2018 to oversee distribution of VSHSL proceeds and advise on the needs of the VSHSL priority populations. The board has three committees, representing Veterans, Seniors, and Vulnerable Populations. The Seniors Committee includes two representatives from the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes this newsletter. Learn more about each committee here.
Contributor Traci Adair manages the Older Adults and Healthy Aging Program at King County Department of Community and Human Services, which offers a range of programs and services to help our county’s most vulnerable residents and strengthen our communities.
Photo at top courtesy of King County. VSHSL 2018 funds helped El Centro de la Raza host information sessions on King County’s Senior Property Tax Exemption. The sessions helped older people learn about the exemption and connected them with application support.