The King County Council last week approved a sixth supplemental COVID-19 budget at its meeting last week.

The $92 million budget amount is dedicated to maintaining existing support for COVID-19 efforts and programs.

According to a news release, specific funds earmarked include:

• $45.2 million for rental assistance;

• $29 million for public health response and county operations;

• $11.2 million for vaccination efforts for 60 days;

• $5 million to establish a revolving fund to provide upfront payment for grants to community-based organizations that cannot wait for reimbursement

• $1.9 million to extend the homeless response programs JustCARE and Co-LEAD to the end of March.

While King County Councilmember and Budget Committee Chair Jeanne Kohl-Welles had initially stated staff were to employ the same tenant lottery system in determining who should benefit from rental assistance, that plan was changed in the budget review process.

Instead, funds will specifically prioritize residents “suffering disproportionate health and economic impacts from COVID-19 pandemic, such as those performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic and those who historically have been disproportionately impacted by inequities and discrimination related to housing.” As well, the county will use a “hub-and-spoke model” to provide support, such as through grants, to primary “hub” community-based organizations. Those larger organizations may then contract with smaller “spoke” community-based organizations to provide eviction prevention and rent assistance to people in their communities.

According to the legislation, the organizations that will be utilized in the “hub-and-spoke” model will serve communities throughout the county with residents suffering the greatest from COVID and who have been disproportionately affected by housing inequities and discrimination.

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, the County Council now turn its focus to a new $600 million COVID recovery budget proposal.

Unlike last year, which required the council to pass numerous supplemental budgets, Kohl-Welles thinks the council may only need four supplemental budgets — possibly one each quarter — to account for distribution of the latest rescue package funds.

According to a county news release, the $600 million supplemental budget proposal includes $253 million for public health response/vaccinations and COVID operations; $199 million for rental assistance, childcare and behavioral health; $92 million for economic recovery; and $40 million for the King County Jobs Program.

The $600 million supplemental budget will be comprised of ARP Act and other federal funds and county and state money.