King County voters will decide whether to replace an expiring veterans, seniors and human services levy during the Aug. 1 special election.
The Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL), which was approved by King County voters in 2005, 2011, and 2017, is up for voter consideration for the fourth time.
If approved, it would authorize an additional six-year property tax levy for collection beginning in 2024 at 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, with the 2024 levy amount being the base for calculating annual increases by 3.5% in 2025-2029.
The measure, identified on ballots as Proposition 1, would authorize renewal of an additional property tax levy to fund regional health and human services and capital facilities for veterans and military service members and their families; seniors and their caregivers; and “resilient communities.”
The levy defines resilient communities as persons or communities susceptible to reduced health, housing, financial, or social stability outcomes due to systemic and historical exposure to trauma, violence, poverty, isolation, bias, racism, stigma, discrimination, disability, or chronic illness.
According to King County, the levy has funded a wide range of programs that connect veterans, military service members and their families, as well as individuals and families in need with affordable housing, employment, behavioral health treatment, and other services since 2006. In 2017, voters approved the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy, adding funding for services to King County seniors and their families. The current levy expires in December 2023.
According to the county, since 2018, the levy has:
• Served more than 27,000 veterans, service members and their families with fewer eligibility barriers than many federal programs
• Contributed to a 40% reduction in veteran homelessness
• Helped more than 260 veterans, service members, and family members access more than 15,000 mental health counseling sessions
• Built 234 units of affordable housing for veterans and their families
• Funded 39 senior centers across the county
• Served more than 100,000 seniors through expanded senior programming
• Launched DVHopeline, a countywide, 24-hour multi-lingual and multimodal domestic violence hotline, that received 16,000 calls or texts and referred nearly 7,000 of those callers to additional support
• Funded mobile advocacy services for more than 1,200 survivors of gender-based violence
• Helped build more than 1,000 units of affordable housing and 198 new shelter beds
“Since 2017, the levy has helped over 185,000 veterans, seniors, and vulnerable people. Programs are independently audited for efficiency. The rate is identical to 2017, and the median-valued home will pay $17 more per year,” according to a statement in support of Proposition 1 submitted by King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus.