Veteran homelessness in London, Ont., has functionally ended, a notable milestone that brings the city one step closer to achieving absolute zero homelessness among local veterans, city hall said Tuesday.
Municipal officials say Built for Zero Canada, a campaign run by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, confirmed recently that London attained functional zero veteran homelessness, becoming the first community in the country to do so.
What that means is that the number of veterans in London who are experiencing homelessness is now less than or equal to the number of veterans the city has proven it can house in a month.
The city says it functionally ended veteran homelessness in October, and reduced the rate of homelessness among veterans by 57 per cent between March and August of last year. The rate fell another 75 per cent between August and September.
Officials credited a “deep data-driven, housing-focused working relationship between the city, local agencies, and veterans’ organizations” in achieving the functional zero, in addition to utilizing the Veteran Quality By-Name List, a real-time list of all veterans experiencing homelessness in the community.
Describing it as a remarkable accomplishment, he noted that it should serve as motivation to “aim higher, think bigger, and challenge ourselves to do even more.”
“Instead of stopping at functional zero for veteran homelessness, why not functional zero for homeless women, or mothers with children fleeing abuse?” he said.
“Why not functional zero for our homeless Indigenous population, or those with addictions, or those cut off from family and related supports?
“Why not functional zero for chronic homelessness, period? And why not in London, Ontario?”
“Perhaps the more pressing question is ‘what would it take?'”
Holder says the city’s Housing Stability Action Plan has determined the city needs to generate 3,000 new affordable housing units to add to its stock — only about 150 new units are coming online each year.
“If that remains our pace, it would take us 20 years to achieve. That’s unacceptable,” Holder said, announcing a new challenge: to provide 3,000 additional affordable housing units in five years in a bid to achieve functional zero for those chronically homeless.
“It’s 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,” he said.
Earlier this month, the London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors reported the average price of a home in their jurisdiction hit $607,431 in January, an increase of 40 per cent from January 2020 and 127.9 per cent from January 2016.
According to Rentals.ca, the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment in London stood at $1,154 as of this month, with a two-bedroom at $1,622.