City adds housing options for low-income families

Council sets aside 38 more homes, but 200 applicants are on the waiting list for aid.

September 21, 2010|By Gretchen Meier,

Struggling families have more housing options after city officials this week reserved 38 more apartments for low-income residents.

The City Council, acting in its dual role as a Redevelopment Agency, voted to increase the number of units available to low-income families.

More than 200 families are on the waiting list for housing assistance, officials said.

The Burbank Housing Corporation operates 275 affordable housing units in five neighborhoods in addition to a transitional housing program.

With rising unemployment rates and anemic economic trends, housing vacancies have risen and left increasing numbers of vacant units that were restricted for moderate-income residents.


Under the new agreement approved on Tuesday, the Elmwood and Peyton-Grismer properties, identified as containing the highest percentage of vacant moderate-income units, will see 38 apartments redesignated for low-income applicants.

Before the change, the Burbank Housing Corporation was unable to rent units to families that did not fit the criteria.

The Redevelopment Agency and Burbank Housing Corporation may now cut down on the number of long-term vacancies by leasing units out for below their given income level designation after 90 days. The agency will still have to convert the next available unit to the higher rent level in order to continue to generate enough income to cover operational expenses.

"The changes are effective now," said Maribel Leyland, senior redevelopment project manager. "But [those on the waiting list] seeing a benefit depends on the Burbank Housing Corporation looking at what they have available."

Many of the vacancies were filled during an aggressive marketing campaign by the agencies. Since then, the number of vacancies has dropped to "about a handful," said the city's housing development manager, Arelene Roldan.

"We are still creating mixed-income communities when implementing the regulatory and affordability requirements," Leland said.

Some members of the public called for all rents to be lowered, but the agency's hands are tied by the requirements that come with receiving federal funds.

But with dropping market rates and the soft economy, more families will likely qualify for the affordable housing help, officials said.

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