County Council accepts annual report on Veterans and Human Service Levy
StoryFunding approved by the voters of King County is helping to assist veterans and their families and others in need across King County connect to housing, homeless prevention assistance, job training, and counseling. The Metropolitan King County Council today accepted the 2012 Veterans and Human Services Levy Annual Report on how the proceeds from the Veterans and Human Services (VHS) Levy are being used throughout the County.
“The Veterans and Human Services Levy is providing much needed housing assistance, as well as vital treatment and support services for our returning veterans, aging veterans and other families in need across our county,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, prime sponsor of the motion and Chair of the Regional Policy Committee. “It is important that we continue to assist our veterans as they reintegrate into society, and to give a simple thank you to those who have given so much to preserve our nation’s freedom.”
“I am so pleased that this levy is doing what we intended – increasing services and outreach to those brave men and women who have served our country, reducing homelessness and assisting vulnerable populations,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “The documentation of this progress is an important factor in making sure we are keeping faith with the taxpayers and spending these funds wisely.”
“This is a levy that has both changed and saved lives,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “I hope the voters of King County will take the opportunity to read the report and see how their support has made a difference.”
The proceeds from the Veterans and Human Services Levy, first adopted by voters in 2006 and renewed by voters in 2011, are split between programs dedicated to veterans, military personnel, and their families and programs designed to assist other individuals and families in need. Almost $16 million is raised annually through the levy.
“Stable housing, health improvements, and job training have helped many people in our region,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Thanks to the voters who made it all happen through renewal of the Levy.”
The levy goals are to:
1. Prevent and reduce homelessness.
2. Reduce unnecessary criminal justice and emergency medical system involvement.
3. Increase self-sufficiency of veterans and vulnerable populations.
The 2012 annual report demonstrates considerable progress in every goal area. In 2012, funding from the VHS assisted veterans in:
Enhanced outreach to women veterans and veterans of color: Levy-funded services reached and assessed the needs of 721 women veterans and veterans of color in 2012, and helped 602 connect with services and resources they needed, such as housing, medical and mental health care, employment skills, and help with disability claims.
• Homeless street outreach: The program offered services to 173 veterans and their families who were homeless or at risk of homelessness. A total of 131 completed an assessment, with 60 receiving housing or shelter services. A total of 116 successfully completed case plans, including actions to obtain health, employment and pension benefits. The program also helped injured veterans obtain their disability and pension benefits.
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Military Sexual Trauma: Levy funding enabled many more veterans to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than possible with other funding. The treatment providers are located throughout King County, expanding access to service, increasing convenience and scheduling opportunities, and providing greater privacy than veterans may encounter with other programs. The program enabled family members to be seen for treatment, too, either alone or with their veteran relative.
“The levy continues to make great strides in expanding the array and geographic locations of services available to the veterans of King County and their families,” said Francisco Ivarra, Chair, Veterans Citizen Levy Oversight Board. “I am proud of the efforts of our board members, staff and service providers who have worked so hard to effectively serve our veterans in King County.”
VHSL funds assist the county’s most vulnerable populations in areas ranging from homelessness to finding employment to reducing involvement with the criminal justice system:
• Housing assistance for the chronically homeless: The Housing Health Outreach Team worked with 762 Seattle and South King County residents whose complex needs made it difficult for them to maintain stable housing. Ninety-one percent maintained housing for one year.
• Capital funds for permanent housing: Levy funds support development of affordable housing linked to supportive services to assist the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. In 2012, refurbishing was completed of the 64-unit Evergreen Court and construction began on Nyer Urness House in Seattle, which will serve 21 veterans. Funds awarded in 2012 helped support the development of 182 new units of affordable housing.
• Community Employment Services: This project provided education and employment services to homeless individuals and families. Co-located at WorkSource centers, the project helped participants develop individual action plans, identify needed job readiness and vocational training, address barriers to employment, and access social services. In 2012, the project enrolled 970 individuals, and helped 484 get jobs.
• Reducing unnecessary criminal justice and emergency medical system involvement: After one year of involvement in the Forensic Intensive Supportive Housing program, participants’ jail bookings declined by 51 percent and days in jail declined by 74 percent. Data available on 110 individuals referred to supportive housing through the innovative Client Care Coordination program showed community psychiatric hospital days declined by almost 70 percent and emergency department admissions declined by 66 percent.
“I am proud we have been able to document our progress in meeting the levy’s goals, in particular reducing unnecessary involvement in expensive public services such as emergency medical and criminal justice services and more importantly, improving people's lives,” said Loran Lichty, Chair, Regional Human Services Levy Oversight Board.
VHSL funds also play a vital role in aiding families at risk within King County:
• Healthy Start: The Healthy Start program as¬sessed and provided home visits to 205 parents and their 222 children in 2012. More than half the families were Hispanic/Latino. Ninety-four percent of the Healthy Start families made progress or met goals they set to improve their lives; 96 percent of mothers had increased positive parenting skills.
• Maternal depression reduction: Low-income pregnant women and mothers often expe¬rience severe depression that negatively affects their parenting, their child’s early development, and their overall health. In 2012, the program screened 2,960 pregnant and parenting mothers for depression, anxi¬ety and substance abuse when they went to primary care visits. A total of 652 screened positive and were engaged in treatment.
• Passage Point Program: The Passage Point facility in Maple Valley serves parents exiting the criminal justice system. Levy funds supported comprehensive services to help the parents transition to stability and reunite with their children, where possible. In 2012, all 46 units at Passage Point were filled. The program assisted 128 residents, more than half of whom were under 18 years old. Services included case management (4,003 hours), employment (934 contacts), family therapy and transportation to other needed services.