In King County, if you fall off a ladder or experience a stroke, you can trust that there will be an emergency room nearby where you can get relatively fast – if outrageously expensive – medical care. But if you find yourself in the throes of a behavioral health crisis, there’s pretty much nowhere for you to go to get help.
In fact, for King County’s 2.2 million residents, there’s just one 46-bed behavioral health crisis facility, and it requires a referral that often comes only after a potentially dangerous encounter with police.¹ There are also few options for people who need longer-term care: Nearly one-third of King County’s residential behavioral health beds have closed in the last five years due to lack of funding,² and people seeking long-term care now have to wait an average of 44 days. Instead of receiving the care they need, many of our most vulnerable neighbors are languishing in emergency rooms, jail cells, and curbside encampments.
That’s why Solid Ground has joined with dozens of other organizations to endorse King County Proposition 1, a new King County levy on the ballot for this spring’s April 25 Special Election. If approved, this property tax levy of just $10 a month (for the average King County homeowner) would establish five new walk-in behavioral health crisis centers, preserve or restore over 100 residential behavioral health beds, and expand our behavioral health workforce through increased career support.
Don’t take our word for it.
Solid Ground supports Prop 1 because community members who responded to our 2022 Community Needs Assessment told us that one of the services they needed most but couldn’t access was behavioral health care. One of the biggest reasons, they said, is they didn’t know where to go to get help.
Prop 1 would help fix that. The regional crisis centers created through the levy would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for anyone who needs urgent help, regardless of ability to pay. Patients experiencing a behavioral health crisis could receive immediate support with 23-hour observation and, if needed, a crisis stabilization bed for short-term behavioral health treatment for up to 14 days. King County’s Department of Community and Human Services anticipates the first crisis center would open in late 2026.
But some people need help beyond two weeks, which is why Prop 1 seeks to end the loss of residential behavioral health beds in King County and make more available. These residential facilities provide a pathway toward independent living and an alternative to more costly stays in prisons and jails – and can help prevent people in behavioral health crisis from experiencing the added trauma of homelessness.
Investments in community work.
This wouldn’t be the first time King County voters have responded to a crisis in our communities by making transformational investments in our future. In 2005, voters recognized that cuts to human services had left our safety net too weak to respond to a new generation of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, so we passed the Veterans, Seniors & Human Services Levy (VSHSL), which has now been renewed three times and will be up for a vote again this year.
In just the last six years, the VSHSL:
- enabled King County to serve 27,000 veterans
- contributed to a 40% reduction in veteran homelessness
- helped fund the construction of 234 affordable housing units for veterans and their families
- … and much more
We can make the same transformational investment in our behavioral health care infrastructure with King County Prop 1.
But our communities’ needs don’t stop with behavioral health: Prop 1 is just the first of three opportunities voters will have this year to address the crises we face as a county and invest in a better future for our neighbors. In August, King County voters will have a chance to renew the VSHSL for a fourth time, and in November, Seattle voters will be asked to renew the city’s Housing Levy. All three levies will be crucially important in addressing the interconnected crises of affordable housing, homelessness, and behavioral health.
We can build a better future for King County together. Please vote YES on Prop 1 and return your ballot by Tuesday, April 25!
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