Mayor Holder Prioritizes COVID Recovery, Bold Affordable Housing Challenge in 2021 State of the City
(London, ON – February 16, 2020) Contrasting “brutal honesty” with “credible hope,” London Mayor Ed Holder used his 2021 State of the City address (full text attached)
to highlight the resiliency of Londoners in the face of COVID-19, while also laying out a bold challenge to achieve functional zero for chronic homelessness in London.
During his address Tuesday, delivered virtually from the London Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor announced London had made history as a result of becoming the first community in Canada to achieve functional zero Veteran homelessness (more info: bit.ly/2N4KhT4
). While celebrating the accomplishment, Holder said the goal moving forward must become functional zero for “chronic homelessness, period” – and within five years - by generating 3,000 new affordable housing units.
“Based on our current pace, it would take 20 years to achieve. That’s unacceptable,” Holder said. “The five year goal is ambitious — it requires us to quadruple the number of affordable housing units that are currently being provided annually. But we can do this, and the time to start is now.”
The Mayor referenced historic investments made by City Council in support of London’s most vulnerable, support from federal and provincial levels of government, in addition to unprecedented support from not-for-profits and social agencies as reasons for optimism, but issued a challenge to London’s private sector as well.
“We need you as builders, as developers, as Londoners who have grown with this City. You make investments in buildings, and property. We need you to make additional investments in people and community. Whether it’s providing labour, property, funding, or partnerships — join us.”
Mayor Holder also used Tuesday’s speech to praise London’s economic recovery which has seen seven straight months of employment gains, adding 33,300 jobs during that time, in addition to being one of only three communities in all of Ontario to have more people employed today compared to levels from March 2020 when the first province-wide lockdown was implemented.
In addition to economic recovery, and London’s most vulnerable, the Mayor highlighted his continued commitment to improving transportation across the city, including bus electrification, while also pledging to use his recent appointment as Chair of the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Task to advocate “in the strongest possible terms” for more frequent, more reliable, and faster rail service to and from Toronto.
Mayor Holder spoke frankly about the toll COVID-19 had taken on the personal and professional lives of all Londoners, while pausing for a moment of silence to honour the 181 lives lost to date in the London-area as a result of the virus. He also gave special recognition to health-care professionals, essential service workers, and first responders.
“You are not only frontline workers, you remain our last line of defence. You have held the line, against all odds and for that, our entire City offers you its deepest gratitude, and will remain forever in your debt,” he said.
While acknowledging the ongoing threat posed by variants and the risk of a ‘third-wave,’ Mayor Holder expressed confidence “there’s more of this behind us than lays before us,” and while remaining focused on the present, he hopes Londoners join him in beginning to imagine a post-COVID reality.
“Instead of getting back to the way things used to be, I’d rather we look to where things are going. And where we’re going is proudly, enthusiastically, and confidently towards a more prosperous, economically-exciting, equitable, and compassionate London.”