Voters overwhelmingly renew Veterans and Human Services Levy

August 23, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The popular Veterans and Human Services Levy garnered overwhelming support from King County voters Aug. 16, as the electorate renewed the measure through 2017.

The levy is expected to generate about $100 million for programs to aid veterans and needy residents. The funding is split 50-50 between veterans programs and human services efforts.

“The citizens of King County have demonstrated their respect for our veterans and compassion for our neighbors most in need by voting to renew the Veterans and Human Services Levy,” County Executive Dow Constantine, a levy supporter, said in a statement late Aug. 16.

“I thank the voters for approving the levy and showing, once again, that King County is an extraordinary community in which to live.”

The measure, Proposition 1, garnered more than 60 percent of the vote in the initial results King County Elections released last week. The elections office is due to certify the results Aug. 31.

The measure garnered broad support from human services organizations and advocates for veterans. The county Voters’ Guide, in fact, did not include any statements opposing Proposition 1. Even the County Council put the measure on the ballot in a unanimous decision.

Voters approved the initial Veterans and Human Services Levy — 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value — to fund programs for veterans and social service efforts in 2005.

Get involved

Veterans and Human Services Levy draft service improvement plan

Residents can comment on the draft service improvement plan for the Veterans and Human Services Levy renewal until 5 p.m. Aug. 26. Find the plan at the levy administrators’ website, www.kingcounty.gov/ operations/DCHS/Services/Levy.aspx. Follow the link for the draft plan.

Proposition 1 matches the existing levy and does not include additional taxes. The owner of a home assessed at $340,000 is expected to pay $17 in 2012 under the levy renewal.

Organizations operating in Issaquah and the surrounding area, such as Friends of Youth and YWCA of Seattle-King-Snohomish, receive support from the levy. In addition, nonprofit organizations serving Issaquah-area residents — such as Child Care Resources, HealthPoint medical and dental clinics, and Hopelink, a regional human services nonprofit organization — also receive levy funds.

YWCA received levy funds in recent years for the Passage Point program and YWCA Family Village at Issaquah, a workforce-housing complex in the Issaquah Highlands. Passage Point is a complex for homeless families near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill between Issaquah and Maple Valley.

Countywide, the levy funds programs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder — a common affliction among veterans returning from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq — and emergency housing for veterans.

The day after the election, levy administrators released a draft plan for managing dollars generated through the levy renewal. Residents can comment on the 53-page proposal through Aug. 26.

“King County voters again demonstrated their support for providing critical services for our veterans and others in need,” County Councilman Bob Ferguson, sponsor of Proposition 1 and the initial levy in 2005, said in a statement on Election Day. “The Veterans and Human Services Levy is a small investment with a huge impact. It provides essential services that help our veterans and strengthen our families, from employment training and housing to PTSD counseling.”

Issaquah-area County Councilman Reagan Dunn cosponsored the legislation to put Proposition 1 on the August ballot.

“Ten years into the war on terror, we are seeing the demand for veterans services increase significantly. It is estimated that there will be 2 million veterans coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who served in some capacity,” he said in a statement. “I thank the voters for valuing the sacrifice of our returning veterans.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

Report details levy successes

King County officials said the Veterans and Human Services Levy saves taxpayer dollars by reducing criminal justice and emergency medical costs for veterans and needy residents.

The information — in a biannual report County Executive Dow Constantine sent to the County Council on Aug. 11 — focuses on ending homelessness, prevention, and creating permanent housing and employment.

The levy served 18,473 clients and, since voters enacted the initial levy in 2005, 25 levy-funded capital housing projects have been completed or started construction. The construction added more than 1,200 units of permanent housing for low-income people countywide.

“The taxpayers of King County are getting an excellent return on their investment, according to these new findings, and the credit goes to such effective programs as our innovative Client Care Coordination system, which gets the most complex clients off the street and into stable housing,” Constantine said in a statement. “Ending chronic homelessness requires permanent housing combined with onsite supportive services, and the Veterans and Human Services Levy is helping us to provide both.”

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