Join Sound Generations in Advocating for the Veterans and Human Services Levy

Do you believe our government should support seniors and veterans? Now is the time to let your councilmember know!

Currently, King County Council is discussing the renewal of the popular Veterans and Human Services levy, set to expire at the end of 2017. Originally, it was proposed that this levy be funded by a property tax requiring King County homeowners to pay 12 cents per $1,000 assessed value (or $4.50 per month for a $450,000 median-priced home).

However, on July 5, the Council declined the proposed 12-cent replacement, taking over $60 million over 6 years off the table to address homelessness and provide health services to veterans, seniors, and their families. By a vote of 5-4, county council members voted to reduce the proposal to a 10-cent option — which would leave many vulnerable county residents unable to access adequate housing, healthcare, job training, and other vital human services. Sound Generations strongly opposes this decision, and hopes that the council will reconsider to increase the levy to 12 or 15 cents.

Fortunately, the decision is not yet final. The Council will meet again on Wednesday, July 12. If you support this cause, please consider contacting your councilmember ASAP.

If you don’t know who your councilmember is, you can look up this information here.

In response to the vote, leaders from across the region that represent seniors, human service providers, and veterans groups are calling for the council to reconsider. Below are testimonials gathered by the King County Alliance for Human Services from leaders in the aging community, including our Interim CEO, Susan Doerr.

“On behalf of the almost 10,000 long-term care workers we represent in King County, we are incredibly disappointed by the County Council’s vote to amend the Veterans Human Services and Seniors levy and significantly reduce the proposed funding available for senior services. The senior population in our community is growing quickly, and with deep cuts to funding for senior services likely coming from Washington DC, this is a short-sighted decision that will make it harder for our communities to adequately serve our senior residents.“

– SEIU 775 Secretary-Treasurer Adam Glickman

“We were extremely disappointed to see the King County Council vote today to lower the Vets, Seniors, and Human Services levy proposal from .12 to .10.

We feel that not taking advantage of every opportunity we have to maximize the resources available to house and provide services for our County’s most vulnerable neighbors is not being appropriately responsive to the scope and scale of the massive need that exists within our communities. We’ve heard a lot of acknowledgment by our elected leaders of the challenges of affordability, homelessness and providing appropriate, robust services to our most vulnerable residents yet today’s vote to lower the amount to place before the voters in November seems to run counter to these sentiments.

Setting the VSHS levy at the .12 level is a product of extensive community outreach and input – community members voicing their vision for how we create a region where everyone has the ability to realize their full potential.

While troubled by today’s vote, our members remain hopeful that those we have elected to represent us will fully honor their commitment to our veterans, seniors and vulnerable neighbors and do the right thing by supporting the VSHSL at a minimum of .12.”

– Housing Development Consortium Executive Director Marty Kooistra

“We’re urging lawmakers to set the VSHS Levy at 12 cents because that would mean we could make serious progress on challenging and high priority issues, including homelessness, that voters care about. The terrible truth is that thousands of people, including seniors, veterans, and families, struggle every day and night to survive on our streets. Let’s get real about where we put our resources. If we’re willing to pay for improvements to public transit, roads, and schools, are we not also willing to support senior centers, youth violence prevention programs, affordable housing, and mental health care?”

– Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Alison Eisinger

“Seniors face the same challenges as the general population does, but they are more likely to be chronically ill or disabled and more often dealing with serious housing affordability issues or homelessness. Yet, the public perception-perhaps based on TV commercials -is that of well-to-do retirees who spend their time golfing or traveling, without a care in the world. While that may be the reality of some seniors, many older adults age their way into poverty. The levy needs to be renewed at 12 cents to deal with this reality”.

-Sound Generations Interim CEO Susan Doerr