The city-owned Kent Senior Activity Center will receive $1.4 million from King County to become a hub on aging services and provide support, outreach, connection and social engagement for the diverse population of seniors (ages 55 and up) who live in Kent and other areas of South King County.
Kent is one of 28 senior centers that successfully competed for a total of $19.4 million throughout the region. The centers 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, according to a Tuesday news release from County Executive Dow Constantine.
Funding is from the voter-approved expanded Veterans, Seniors and Human Services levy in 2017 that, for the first time, includes funding dedicated to older adults and caregivers. The investments announced by Constantine will focus on reaching seniors and their caregivers who have not traditionally benefited from the existing network of seniors centers in in the county.
“King County is investing in programs specifically designed to improve the quality of life for our local seniors and their families,” Constantine said. “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.”
As the number of adults age 55 and over continues to grow and become increasingly diverse, Constantine said the county is stepping up to serve the cultural and geographic diversity of seniors and their caregivers, including veterans, service members and their respective families.
The county Department of Community and Human Services encouraged regional senior centers and other community groups to form collaborations or “hubs” to better reach specific demographics, or serve a defined geographic area or cultural group.
Many seniors in the 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 home-bound, according to the news release. Seniors in some communities may be at particular risk of isolation, such as individuals who are part of an immigrant community, Native American elders, non- or limited- English speakers, individuals who identify as LGBTQ or seniors in rural areas who may be geographically isolated.
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. That brings the total investment to more than $20.6 million.
Voters in 2017 approved a higher levy rate of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for six years or about $45 per year for a $450,000 home. The doubled the previous levy rate of 5 cents per $1,000 or about $22.50 per year for a $450,000 home. The previous six-year levy expired the end of 2017. The new six-year levy brings in about $51 million per year and a projected $342 million over six years.