London Secures First Housing Accelerator Fund Backing, Trudeau Commends Mayor’s Dynamic Approach


In a landmark initiative, London has emerged as the first Canadian city to secure backing from the federal government’s Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF). This development was marked with a visit to south London by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced the allocation of $74 million towards the endeavour. During this announcement, Trudeau expressed admiration for Mayor Josh Morgan’s dynamic approach to tackling the city’s pressing housing shortage.

Emphasising the significance of this achievement, Trudeau exhorted mayors across the nation to present equally audacious plans. The prime minister declared, “Based on Josh’s success and the announcement being made right now, I want to challenge other mayors across the country to step up with their proposals.”

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On August 29, the council echoed this sentiment with an unanimous vote in favour of increasing the allowed density on residential properties from three to four units. The vote successfully eliminated the necessity of a zoning amendment in this regard. The council’s decision was a result of a letter dated August 18 in which Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser prompted London to adopt a more progressive stance for its HAF funding application.

On receiving the council’s decision, Fraser hailed it as the convincing evidence needed to green light London’s application for receiving HAF funds. The minister congratulated London for its achievement, and stated that it had led to an impressive “contribution of $74 million from the Housing Accelerator Fund to the City of London.”

London’s accepted application includes a pledge to add a further 2,000 housing units over the next three years. Mayor Morgan has termed the funding as flexible, which will be employed judiciously in eliminating the existing obstacles to intensifying urban development near transit routes, Western University, Fanshawe College, and similar suitable locations.

The enthusiastic mayor expressed his delight to CTV News by saying, “Being first is great. We’re ahead of the curve, and we’ve got plans.”

These potential plans include utilizing the funds to enhance sewer and water systems within areas where servicing restrictions prevent intensification. Additionally, he indicated that the funding might spur the conversion of certain downtown office spaces into residential units.

Parallel to this progress, city staff will use the financing to refine the processes within the planning and building departments. Scott Mathers, deputy city manager of Planning and Economic Development, commented, “We very much have to think differently, get some consultants, maybe hire some temporary staff to get this work done, but we are very motivated.”

Supporting this sentiment, Mayor Morgan added, “The program was designed to reward municipalities that are going to pursue affordability in the creation of new housing supply, and we recognize we can’t just create lightly affordable housing, we also have to build supportive housing.”

With about 2,000 individuals currently experiencing homelessness in London, including 600 with complex needs, a fraction of the funding is expected to bolster the council-endorsed Whole of Community Response to Homelessness. This is envisaged to establish up to 15 low barrier service hubs coupled with 600 supportive housing units.

Mayor Morgan envisaged, “[The funding] can support the creation of transitional beds in the hubs, so we can use some capital dollars for that, we can also use it for the wrap-around supportive housing.”