King County Invests $20 million in Services that Build Connections and Support Healthy Aging

Photo shows intergenerational activity at the Chinese Information and Service Center, which received King County Veterans, Seniors & Human Services Levy (VSHSL) funding to support immigrants and their families, honoring their heritage while helping them succeed. Photo courtesy of King County VSHSL.

On August 20, 2019, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced investments of over $20.6 million to senior centers across King County that will offer a wide range of resources for older adults and their caregivers, expand outreach to older people who may be isolated, and create and enhance services reflecting the diversity of King County’s older adult population.

Funding was made possible thanks to voter approval of the expanded Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy that, for the first time, includes funding dedicated to older adults and caregivers.

“King County is investing in programs specifically designed to improve the quality of life for our local seniors and their families,” said Executive Constantine. “Thanks to King County voters, we are making healthy aging a priority, and the support we’re providing for these senior centers will significantly increase access to services for older adults throughout the region.”

“These investments in services for King County seniors are unprecedented and reflect the generosity of, and commitment to our seniors by King County taxpayers,” said King County Council Chair Rod Dembowski.  “I have seen the value that senior centers deliver first-hand, as my 90-year-old dad is a regular visitor for meals and dances at his local senior centers.  These investments help ensure that our seniors have access to the services they have earned by their lifetime of contributions to our community and nation.”

The King County Department of Community and Human Services encouraged regional senior centers and other community groups to form collaborations or “hubs” to better reach specific demographic groups or serve a defined geographic area or cultural group.

For example, three senior centers partnered together to use their collective expertise to serve Native American elders and isolated and homebound seniors from diverse cultural groups by providing outreach, support, and opportunities for social engagement.

Twenty-eight senior centers successfully competed for a total of $19,480,000 throughout the region. They will form 14 hubs for targeted senior services around the region. Funding for the expanded programming and services will be allocated over the next four-and-a-half years.

Additionally, 13 senior centers will receive $90,000 each in one-time funding to provide services or invest in minor capital or equipment purchases to better serve older adults in their communities.

King County investments are serving culturally and geographically diverse older people and their caregivers, including veterans, servicemembers, and their families.

Significant health risks accompany social isolation. Remaining socially engaged in community has many benefits, including better physical health and resistance to illness and disease; mental and cognitive health; and a sense of purpose and control and longevity.

Many older people in King County experience or are at risk of experiencing social isolation because of few social supports, lack of nearby family, and mobility issues that cause them to be homebound. In some communities, older people are at particular risk of isolation, including individuals who are part of an immigrant community, Native American elders, non- or limited- English speakers, individuals who identify as LGBTQ, and people living in rural areas who may be geographically isolated.

The investments announced in August will focus on reaching King County residents age 55 and over and their caregivers who have not traditionally benefited from the existing network of senior centers across King County.

The hubs that received King County awards include:

  • African Diaspora Seniors Hub—partners include the Central Area Senior Center and Des Moines/Normandy Park Senior Activity Center
  • El Centro de La Raza Senior Hub
  • Far East Senior Hub—partners include Issaquah Senior Center, Mount Si Senior Center, and Sno-Valley Senior Center
  • GenPRIDE Center—partners include Generations with Pride, Healthy Generations Center, and Aging with Pride
  • Greenwood Senior Center Geographic & Dementia-Focused Hub
  • Hub for Asian American Pacific Islander Seniors—partners include Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Chinese Information and Service Center, IDIC Filipino Senior and Family Services, and South Park Senior Center
  • India Association of Western Washington Senior Services Hub
  • Kent Place Hub—Programs for Adults 55+ (Kent Senior Activity Center)
  • North Seattle Hub—partners include Sound Generations’ Lake City/Northgate Senior Center Project, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation’s Native Elders Program, and Wallingford Senior Center
  • Northshore Senior Center—partners include Kenmore Senior Center, Northshore Senior Center, and Peter Kirk Community Center
  • Pike Market Senior Center
  • South East Rural Senior Hub (Enumclaw Senior Center)
  • South King County Senior Centers and Resources—partners include Auburn Senior Activity Center, Federal Way Senior Center, and Pacific Senior Center
  • SouthEast Seattle Senior Hub Campus (Southeast Seattle Senior Center and Foundation)
  • Expanded Senior Hub—one year of funding to build service or infrastructure capacity that will increase opportunities for senior centers to service a diverse population of elders. Recipients include the cities of Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Renton, SeaTac, Tukwila; Ballard NW Senior Center; the Filipino Community of Seattle; Greater Maple Valley; Korean Women’s Association; Senior Center of West Seattle; Shoreline/Lake Forest Park Senior Center; and Vashon Senior Center.

For more information about King County’s Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy, click here.

Photo at top shows intergenerational activity at the Chinese Information and Service Centerwhich received King County Veterans, Seniors & Human Services Levy (VSHSL) funding to support immigrants and their families, honoring their heritage while helping them succeed. Photo courtesy of King County VSHSL.

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of AgeWise King County