King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced a $7.5 million initiative that will provide specially trained Pathfinders and Navigators to connect more veterans, service members, and their families to a network of supportive services.
The community-based Pathfinders and Navigators will reach out to veterans, service members, and their families throughout King County, focusing on those who face the greatest barriers, including veterans who are women, transgender, Native Americans, people of color, veterans who are experiencing homelessness, and their families. In addition to services, the Pathfinders and Navigators will connect veterans who experience isolation to supportive communities.
“No other county in this nation does more to support those who serve in the armed forces, yet our mission will not be complete until we connect all veterans, service members, and their families to the services they need to thrive,” said Executive Constantine. “We have increased the resources available to veterans who live in King County. Now, our specially trained Pathfinders will reach veterans, service members, and families that face the greatest barriers to those resources.”
The funding is generated by the expanded King County Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy, which voters approved in 2017. No other urban county in the nation has a dedicated funding source for veterans programs that matches King County.
During Executive Constantine’s administration, King County has significantly increased the amount of supportive services and housing available to veterans, service members, and their families.
According to the annual point-in-time count, the number of veterans who are experiencing homelessness in King County has decreased over the past few years, by 31 percent in 2018 and another 10 percent in 2019. With support from local businesses, King County trains veterans for family-wage jobs when they return home with 96 percent of clients finding jobs in 2018.
The goal of this initiative is to actively seek veterans, service members, and their family members and help them access all of the services and resources King County has to offer. For example, a veteran who survived sexual assault while serving in the armed forces might be reluctant to report to a Department of Defense facility to get the support they need but might be more responsive to a Pathfinder who works for a community-based nonprofit.
Pathfinders are frontline specialists who will work with and in communities to seek clients who are not currently connecting to community or accessing services. Once they find a veteran, service member, or family member who needs assistance, they will conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, help the client enroll in appropriate services, and connect them with the King County Veterans Program, a service hub that offers continued support services and further connection to the region’s full network of federal, state, and local services for veterans and their families.
Pathfinders and Navigators also will fill gaps in federal and state veterans programs that often cannot serve veteran families and members of the National Guard and Reserves.
Guiding veterans throughout their journey to permanent housing
Building on lessons learned from the previous Veterans and Human Services Levy, Navigators will support veterans experiencing homelessness by guiding them throughout their journey to permanent housing. They will connect clients to services that promote housing and financial stability, healthy living, and social engagement.
King County is home to an estimated 115,000 veterans. While access to service is often identified among the most pressing of their concerns, learning about services and understanding how to access and enroll in them can be daunting. That is particularly true for veterans, service members, and their families who face additional barriers to services, whether it is because of their race, gender, gender identity, or housing status.
Pathfinders and Navigators will serve as knowledgeable, supportive guides who help their clients learn what services they are eligible for, how to access services, and can help them enroll.
Seven community-based organizations successfully competed for a total of $7.5 million in funding that will be allocated over the next 4.5 years.
Executive Constantine announced the initiative at Imagine Housing in Kirkland, where 10 units of affordable housing are reserved for veterans thanks in part to funding from King County Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy.
Pathfinder and Navigator awardees
El Centro de la Raza
Ingersoll Gender Center
Minority Veterans of America
Therapeutic Health Services
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation
Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs
The above is a press release from the office of King County Executive Dow Constantine. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.