Emergency budget passed, COVID relief concert, an audience of plants, and more

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June 24, 2020


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This has already been an incredibly busy week at the County Council.   

As the Council’s Budget Chair, I have been working hard on a third round of emergency funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Yesterday, the Council unanimously approved an additional $86.2M in emergency funding.  This Third Covid-19 Emergency Omnibus Supplemental Budget funds a variety of programs and services, headlined by a $27.2 million increase for food security, rental assistance, homeless services and a variety of measures to boost social programs and address structural racism.  A couple of other parts among many others include $1 million to support digital equity in K-12 schools for those students who are otherwise unable to participate in remote learning if needed, and further investments in behavioral health issues that have skyrocketed during the pandemic. The proposal also includes a provision to supply Metro buses with face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

This spending package will provide relief to the most urgent needs in our community arising from the pandemic.  It also will help position our County to bounce back once the crisis is behind us. And, importantly, the funding is targeted to support historically disadvantaged communities that have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic – an important step to take if we are to dismantle and disrupt racism in our communities once and for all.

The Council first approved $27.4 million in the first COVID-19 emergency funding measure in March and another $62.9 million was approved in mid-May. As with prior measures, we expect much of the emergency spending to be reimbursed by state and federal funds.

In addition, the Council passed legislation yesterday –sponsored by my colleagues Councilmembers Claudia Balducci and Girmay Zahilay and me – that extends eviction protections to residential tenants, including manufactured homeowners, and small commercial tenants in King County.

This ordinance centers on the principle that housing is a human right and as such it’s an important measure in protecting that right. This legislation is critical in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic with many of our residents not having adequate resources to pay their rent. However, we have many more steps to take to ensure King County residents have accessible, affordable and stable housing. I look forward to continuing this important work with my colleagues and community partners that have been advocating and organizing on these issues long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rest of this e-newsletter is meant to provide you with an update on some of the other issues on which I’ve been working as well as helpful information related to the COVID-19 crisis. You can read previous updates I sent out on an archive page so you can find any information you may have missed. I have been sending updates every day since March 1 (sometimes more than one in a day). However, I recently transitioned to sending updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays unless there are major developments. Click here to visit the archive page.

As always, I would like to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions or comments. You can call me at 206-477-1004 or you can reach me by email at jeanne.kohl-welles@kingcounty.gov.

All the best,