(Photo courtesy of Plymouth Housing)

(Photo courtesy of Plymouth Housing)

Approve Prop. 1: Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy | Guest column

Karen Lee, a U.S. Army veteran and CEO of Plymouth Housing, shares why King County voters should vote to approve Proposition 1.

  • Friday, July 28, 2023 12:47pm
  • Opinion

By Karen Lee, Plymouth Housing

As a veteran, I know firsthand that the transition from military life to civilian life is difficult. My last duty station was in Aberdeen, Maryland — across the country from Seattle where I aspired to live my next chapter as a civilian. Fortunately, my family lived in Tacoma, and I was enrolled at the UW Law School.

But even with all my privilege, becoming a civilian was challenging. During my military career, housing, food, and other basic needs were met. I was part of a team, and I lived, ate, and trained with my teammates. As a civilian, I had to pay for rent, food, clothes, and utilities. Most devastating of all, I no longer had my team.

Loneliness and depression are often intertwined in the transition process. And then there is PTSD. Veterans are at an increased risk of living with PTSD. Without treatment, these former service members often struggle to maintain employment, and the slippery slope to homelessness begins.

I’m deeply saddened when I hear about heroes like Bruce who were in and out of shelters before he finally found an apartment at Plymouth Housing in 2016. Bruce was born and raised in East King County and like his brothers, enlisted in the Army at age 17. After nearly a two-decades long career in the Army, Bruce was forced to take medical retirement and fell into homelessness shortly thereafter.

“A lot of my things were gone in the blink of an eye, because I had no place to put them,” Bruce said. “The hardest thing to realize is: How much am I going to lose when I wind up being homeless?” It breaks my heart to see those who have sacrificed so much be forced to endure even more hardship.

Sadly, Bruce’s story is like many of my fellow service members who came upon hard times after leaving the military. Seeing this happen in my community has strengthened my resolve. Veteran homelessness is unacceptable. We should have no homeless vets in our county, state or country—period. Now, as CEO of Plymouth Housing, I work with partners like King County to prevent as many of these tragedies as possible. You can join us by supporting the renewal of the King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy, KC Prop. 1, on our Aug. 1 primary ballot.

Today, Bruce lives at Plymouth’s Simons Seniors Apartments, a building focused on serving seniors where half the units are set aside for veterans. At Plymouth Housing we believe in a world where adults who have been chronically unhoused live with dignity and in homes, and we work every day to achieve that world. Our model of permanent supportive housing—permanent housing coupled with on-site supportive services—has a more than 95% success rate in helping people remain housed long-term. Nearly one in seven Plymouth residents are veterans; many have shared how housing has changed their lives for the better.

Earlier this month, we celebrated the grand opening of Plymouth Crossing in Bellevue. The building will be home to 92 individuals who previously experienced homelessness including seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans. This is only possible thanks to a transformative investment from the King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL).

Countywide, the levy has contributed to a 40% decrease in veteran homelessness for neighbors like Bruce. VSHSL has also built 234 units of affordable housing for veterans and their families and helped to build more than 1,000 units of affordable housing and 198 new shelter beds since 2018 alone.

The levy not only supports affordable housing development: It preserves housing, connects people with employment, counseling, and more. Veterans and seniors can access one-stop service centers, job training, financial assistance, housing and supportive services. Plymouth Housing and service providers across our region are counting on the levy renewal.

When I talk about Plymouth Housing in the community, people ask “how can we help?” When people learn that I served in the Army, they often bring up the troubling data on veterans’ homelessness. They ask “how can we help our homeless vets?” Here is your opportunity to do both. By marking “yes” on your ballot, you can join me, Plymouth Housing, King County, and those working tirelessly across our region to end homelessness. You can be a hero to our country’s heroes.

Karen Lee is a U.S. Army veteran and CEO of Plymouth Housing. (Photo courtesy of Plymouth Housing)

Karen Lee is a U.S. Army veteran and CEO of Plymouth Housing. (Photo courtesy of Plymouth Housing)




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Robert Whale can be reached at robert.whale@auburn-reporter.com.
In search of fairness, morals and good sportsmanship | Whale's Tales

Ah, the Golden Rule. We all know it: do unto others as… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at robert.whale@auburn-reporter.com.
The key thing is what we do with our imperfections | Whale's Tales

I have said and done many things of which I am not proud. That is, I am no golden bird cheeping about human frailties from some high branch of superhuman understanding.

Robert Whale can be reached at robert.whale@albmedia.app.
Grappling with the finality of an oncologist's statement | Whale's Tales

Perhaps my brain injected a bit of humor to cover the shock. But I felt the gut punch.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Legislature back in session next week | Cartoon

State lawmakers return Jan. 8 to Olympia.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Santa doesn't drive a Kia | Cartoon

Cartoon by Frank Shiers.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Salute to veterans | Cartoon by Frank Shiers

On Veterans Day, honor those who served your country.

File photo
Why you should vote in the upcoming election | Guest column

When I ask my students when the next election is, frequently they will say “November 2024” or whichever presidential year is coming up next.

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@albmedia.app.
Here's a column for anyone who loves their dog | Whale's Tales

It is plain to me in looking at dogs small and large that a decent share of them are exemplars of love on Earth, innocents who love unconditionally and love their chow.

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@albmedia.app.
Please protect your children from BS spreaders | Whale's Tales

Among the most useful things I studied in college were debate, and… Continue reading

Email editor@kentnews.us.
It's time to change Kent's City Council elections to districts | Guest column

If you were asked who your city councilmembers are, would you have an answer?

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He is a former president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. Contact thebrunells@msn.com.
Dear government: Hold your horses when regulating trucks | Brunell

Next to gasoline and diesel, natural gas also has the greatest number of refueling stations.