SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson is already halfway through his term, and on Sunday afternoon he held a State of the City address overviewing his time in office.

“We have great opportunities before us and like many cities…every city we have our own unique set of challenges,” says Johnson.

After the entire country suffered economic hardships because of the pandemic – Johnson states the city has recovered remarkably.

“The City of Savannah is growing faster than any place in the state of Georgia,” said Johnson. “2021 was the best year ever for almost all of our industries…ever. Even pre-pandemic. And 2022 is setting up to be even stronger than 2021.”

Starting off strong with a record high of $19 million of the fiscal budget dedicated to affordable housing – an initiative that’s on the mind of the mayor and city council for years to come.

“Again I’ve talked about some of the housing units that have already been done,” says Johnson. “We’re looking at everything. Every piece of land we have…we have to get out of thinking that when we say affordable housing we’re talking about low-income housing. Housing is housing that’s available, affordable and accessible for you.” 

An economic bounce back and good things on the way, yet the city still has one significant issue that stands out over the rest – gun violence. 

“Our situation is unacceptable in my mind, but we’re not unique,” said Johnson.

Johnson says Savannah has seen 16 homicides thus far this year and is noticing trends in how these incidents keep occurring.

“Black males that have some beef with each other…it’s about a woman, about some money, about some drugs. The fact of the matter is this life leads you nowhere,” says Johnson.

Johnson says the city will soon be announcing new ways to fight the ongoing issue.