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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Council Approves More Than $389 Million For Courts Backlog And More In Latest Round Of Emergency COVID Funding

On Tuesday, the King County Council on Tuesday approved its latest round of emergency COVID-19 funding, a supplemental budget totaling more than $389 million.

This, the eighth round of COVID funding since last March, brings King County’s total emergency funding for the pandemic to more than $1.4 billion.

“Facing historic backlogs and delays in the courts due to the coronavirus pandemic, this eighth COVID budget allocates the resources to ensure access to justice — that crime victims, such as survivors of physical and sexual assault and domestic violence, may still seek resolution, that citizens may utilize civil legal aid and the courts to resolve disputes, and that individuals accused of a crime may still access a speedy trial,” said Councilmember Jean Kohl-Welles. “Beyond that, it strengthens our public health response, provides rental assistance for tenants and landlords, invests in community organizations, and continues the strong record King County has built in responding to COVID with equity, creativity, and sustainability at the forefront.”

The funding covers a variety of programs and operations that address both direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic, including health, housing, economic impacts, legal system backlogs and more.

The following is a breakdown of spending in the approved budget.

It appropriates $67 million of the remaining $70 million of the county’s Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (included in American Rescue Plan Act—ARPA– funding) allocation for the following:

Legal System Backlog$42.5 million
Public Health Response to the pandemic$14.6 million
Community Supports, including Civil Legal Aid and Tiny House Villages$3.7 million
Economic Recovery / Workforce Development$5.6 million
County Operations in response to the pandemic$0.9 million

The approved budget also appropriates an additional $321 million, funded by various federal and state grants (most of which are also supported by ARPA) and the county’s General Fund for the following:

Community Supports (Community Development Block Grants, HOME Grants, Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program, Immigrant Community Supports)$279.6 million
Vaccination Efforts (Jail Health, Mass Vaccination Program, Partner Agencies)$27.7 million
Public Health Response to the pandemic$11.3 million
County Operations in response to the pandemic$2.4 million

“We are not out of the pandemic yet, but we can continue supporting an economic recovery that helps those worst hit by this pandemic. Supporting women of color, veterans and others most impacted by the pandemic, we will be investing in a workforce program that will provide pathways to good paying, secure jobs in the healthcare industry here in King County,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. All of this is good for people who need an opportunity to thrive in this economic recovery while developing a robust community health infrastructure that can support all our neighbors in the coming years.”

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