King County Executive Dow Constantine today transmitted a $600 million spending plan to the King County Council, funded in part by the American Rescue Plan. Executive Constantine’s priorities include continuing the public health response and increasing vaccinations; community supports and anti-racist-work; economic recovery with a new program that promotes access to jobs and housing supports.
On Mar. 11, Pres. Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act. Of the $1.9 trillion package, King County is expected to receive $437 million in flexible funds, to be spent by 2024.
Executive Constantine today proposed a $600 million COVID supplemental budget that includes $337 million from the Rescue Act, as well as $247 million in state and FEMA funds, and $16 million from the County’s General Fund.
The balance of Rescue Act funds are expected to be included in subsequent supplemental budgets later this year.
Executive Constantine’s spending proposal includes three key priorities: continuing and expanding the public health response (approximately 42 percent), community supports (33 percent), and jobs and economic recovery (22 percent). The balance is administration and other costs.
“My emergency budget continues our work saving lives, and reflects my priorities to create a strong and racially-just community as we transition from response, to recovery, to rebound,” said Executive Constantine. “By focusing on public health, community supports, and jobs and economic recovery, we will transform this crisis into an opportunity, and leverage this unprecedented investment to make a permanent and positive difference for all the people of King County.”
Highlights of the proposal are included below:
Continued Public Health Response/Vaccinations & COVID operations: $253 million
• $116 million for stepped-up vaccination program, including additional mass vaccination sites in addition to the existing sites in Kent and Auburn, more pop up sites, and scheduling software.
• $82 million for contact tracing, mobile health units and other public health work.
• $32 million to continue isolation and quarantine facilities, related mitigation, and provide hotel rooms for people who previously stayed at homeless shelters
• $10.7 million for ongoing judicial system operations.
• $5 million for Office of Equity and Social Justice to provide grants to community-based organizations and ethnic media.
Community Supports-rental assistance, childcare, behavioral health: $199 million
• $100 million for rental assistance through a state Department of Commerce grant.
• $62.5 million emergency homeless response and related behavioral health services. Programs will include outreach, health and treatment services, housing or enhanced shelter, and economic and housing supports. These programs will bring inside and provide safe and healthy settings for at least 500 people living outside or in vehicles in downtown Seattle and the urban unincorporated areas of the county.
• $18 million for additional behavioral health services, includes services at supportive housing sites, and mental health and treatment services targeted for youth and rural residents.
• $6 million for childcare services, including continuing funding for essential worker child care vouchers and an emergency grant program for child care providers.
• $6 million for food security, including funding a food-hub and supporting community-based organizations to purchase culturally-appropriate foods from local markets and farms and distribute it to residents.
Economic Recovery: $92 million
• $25.6 million for BIPOC business and economic resiliency fund, a concept that came out of the County’s Racism as Public Health Crisis effort. These funds will be allocated through a community-led process and will invest in economic opportunities for residents who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
• $20 million to support organizations in the creative economy which was hit hardest by COVID-related restrictions, these funds will help community arts, cultural, and science institutions resume operations and keep people in their jobs.
• $10.4 million to fund new construction apprenticeship and job training programs that support cities, school districts, and colleges in creating local hire programs in under-served areas throughout King County.
• $4 million to provide start up funding for statewide behavioral health apprenticeship program to help tackle chronic workforce issues.
• $9 million to continue small business grants in unincorporated King County and reducing backlog of permits in Department of Local Services in unincorporated King County.
• $10.8 million for 4Culture’s arts recovery fund, restoring jobs in King County’s film industry, and an event and festival restart fund.
• $1 million to create economic pathways for youth and young adults involved in gun violence.
King County Jobs Program: $40 million
A new program that creates over 400 new temporary jobs and recruits people to fill them from County shelter or emergency and supported housing programs. Jobs include short-term temporary positions in King County Parks, Noxious Weed Program, Facilities Management Division, Roads Division, and County partners. Expands the existing Conservation Corps clean-up crews dispatched to White Center, Fall City, and Skyway.
My emergency budget continues our work saving lives, and reflects my priorities to create a strong and racially-just community as we transition from response, to recovery, to rebound. By focusing on public health, community supports, and jobs and economic recovery, we will transform this crisis into an opportunity, and leverage this unprecedented investment to make a permanent and positive difference for all the people of King County.
It is urgent and right that King County’s response to COVID focuses these resources to sustain and increase health and safety for people who have neither homes nor shelter. Black and indigenous people, and people of color, are disproportionately burdened by the economic and health consequences of this public health emergency, and disproportionately experience the trauma of homelessness. How we confront these intersecting crises is a test of our collective humanity and our sustained commitment to public health. I am encouraged and excited to see the Executive propose an array of real and smart options so hundreds more King County residents can have dignified indoor places to shelter and connect to services. Doing right by our unhoused neighbors with this round of investments will make a real difference, and strengthen the fabric that binds our community together.
For my bakery business these grants provided critical financial support when we most desperately needed it to stay afloat during the pandemic. Knowing of additional grants being prepared will be huge help in getting our bakery operating closer to normal and serving our pupusas, Salvadorean quesadillas, and tres leches cakes with our White Center and neighboring communities.
Culture is an essential ingredient to sustaining a region that is creative, innovative and adaptable to change. The ongoing pandemic, and resultant economic downturn, have proven devastating for the arts and culture sector. Funding, from the American Rescue Plan, will help ensure King County’s artists and cultural organizations endure.
For my business/members of my chamber of commerce, these grants provided critical financial support when businesses desperately needed it to survive. This new round of grants will be critical to getting small businesses in unincorporated King County back up and running to fuel our economic recovery.
It is with tremendous anticipation that we look forward to bringing events and festivals back to our community. With this support from Executive Constantine and King County, we will be able to safely ease our way into producing events that will bring art, music, culture and entertainment back to the people. We can hardly wait!
If we want diversity in our workforce, we need to create options that meet workers and employers where they are. Behavioral health apprenticeships remove barriers so that more people—particularly BIPOC, low-income and immigrant workers—can have good jobs in healthcare. By fully funding the behavioral health apprenticeship budget, King County is making an essential investment in the future of behavioral healthcare in this community.
The Permitting Division has done a commendable job maintaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the financial strains caused by a fall-off in permitting revenue has caused a significant backlog of permits. The investments proposed in this package will give permitting the ability to eliminate that backlog, and will lay the foundation for the construction industry to generate significant employment as the summer construction season takes off. The homebuilding industry can spur quick economic growth, reinvigorate the economy, and bring much needed housing to market. In order to do so, builders need approved permits in hand and the proposed investments are vitally important to making that happen.
For many businesses in Snoqualmie Valley, this additional financial support is the difference between staying afloat or closing their doors forever. Our local businesses have faced unprecedented challenges for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Valley has also experienced a severe decline in tourism over the past year due to the cancellation of events and attractions that draw millions of people to our area each year. Additional financial support is vital for our businesses to be able to survive this crisis.
The proposed $25.6 million BIPOC Resiliency Fund is a great step towards creating a more equitable King County. It’s heartening to know that money has been moved due to the voices that we, and other community-based organizations, amplified as part of our partnership and work with King County’s Racism as a Public Health Crisis. We eagerly anticipate a program that thinks of the community first and puts the community first. Our young people and our community members are poised to be involved. We are grateful to know that our government is hearing our voices, seeing our needs, and committing resources to make lasting change.
We applaud King County Executive Dow Constantine for proposing critical investments necessary for the recovery of our cultural places and public programs they offer. With vaccinations and tiered reopening plans, a return to community life is slowly emerging. But the stark reality is that our county's cultural gathering places – music venues and dance companies, theatres and concert halls, museums and science centers – were the first to shut down, and will be the last to reopen. This urgent support will help offset the pandemic’s devastating impacts while we work together to drive reconnections, community healing and economic recovery.
I appreciate these significant investments from KCRHA’s County partners and the explicit focus on housing supports for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Our ability to create a system that focuses on the creation of an expanded menu of housing and support options will help us take a meaningful step towards ending homelessness in the region. This funding can advance the types of customer-centered, evidence-based, and pro-equity approaches that KCRHA will build on in the coming months and years. I am eager to continue working with people with lived experience of homelessness, King County, and all our partners across the region on an implementation plan that realizes the full potential of this funding to meet the needs of our neighbors.
Building an infrastructure for film and television production is critical to maintaining a resilient and sustainable creative economy. Development of a film production stage will make it possible for our artists and craftspeople to retain employment year-round, and for the larger community to benefit from the significant economic impact that an active production hub provides. This has long been a missing piece of the puzzle in King County, and I am incredibly grateful that Dow Constantine has made it a priority.
As our community begins to recover and enter our post-COVID recovery, we cannot forget the commitment the County made when racism was declared a public health crisis. In that effort, we must be focused on uplifting those who have been historically under-resourced. We strongly encourage the implementation of the Economic Resilience Fund with intentional support included for Black-owned businesses in the region.
This investment is a critical step in the recovery of the arts and culture sector. It acknowledges the economic importance of creative industries, the impact they have on strengthening our communities, and the necessary support for thousands of creative workers that have been laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. ArtsFund is encouraged by this investment and supports King County and the Executive in their focus on revitalizing the sector.
This fund will increase economic opportunity for underserved communities in King County by helping our public partners adopt Community Workforce Agreements and grow apprenticeship programs. The Building Trades are building stronger communities with the highest quality craftspeople, by being inclusive and by working in innovative partnerships such as this one. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Executive Constantine and King County on this important project.
An effective community relief package for COVID-19 won’t just aid our battle against the virus, but will establish and implement a vision for a better, more inclusive post-pandemic King County. The Executive’s proposals for economic recovery, such as the $40 million jobs program and $14 million in apprenticeship rightly focus on building pathways to economic opportunity. For so many members of our community hard hit by the pandemic, the road to economic recovery starts with a job.
The Local Services crews providing litter control and graffiti removal in White Center have been a huge help to merchants and the small business community in here. Expanding this program and providing more opportunities for transitional employment for current and formerly homeless folks is the right thing to do, and a tremendous benefit to communities in unincorporated King County.
For more information, contact:
Alex Fryer, Executive Office, 206-477-7966