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King County establishes implementation plan for $1.3B crisis care levy

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(The Center Square) – Over a year after the King County Crisis Centers Levy was passed by voters, the county council approved an implementation plan for the largest funding in the region’s behavioral health system.

The recently approved implementation plan maps out King County’s funding of more than $1 billion over the next nine years to create five crisis care centers.

The Crisis Care Centers Levy costs property owners about 15 cents per $1,000 assessed value, so a median $900,000 homeowner in the county is expected to pay $135 this year toward King County’s work to build up behavioral health resources.

The centers provide people the opportunity to get help for behavioral health issues regardless of insurance or the ability to pay. Each center is expected to be able to serve as many as 14,000 people a year.

The implementation plan was unanimously approved by the King County Council on June 18. The plan process began in June 2023 and concluded in December 2023. It went through nine committee and county council meetings before it was approved on June 18.

King County has a total of 244 mental health residential treatment beds for the entire region as of the end of 2023. That is down 111 beds from the capacity of 355 beds in 2018.

One of the supporting purposes to be funded by the levy is to restore the number of residential treatment beds to 355.

Now that the implementation plan is approved, the county will now determine locations for the first three crisis care centers. The King County Department of Community and Human Services plans to release the first request for proposals to select operators this fall.

Some of the early investments from the Crisis Care Centers Levy include directing $15 million in funding to up to three residential treatment facilities to preserve the current supply of community residential treatment beds and prevent further loss, placing crisis counselors in 911 call centers to help people who call for a mental health crisis, and training more workers to boost the behavioral health workforce.

The first crisis care center is expected to open by 2026 and all five centers are planned to be operational by 2030.

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