Council OKs $9.6M for affordable housing

City votes to fund Catalina Street project using redevelopment money.

May 17, 2011|By Gretchen Meier,

The City Council has agreed to spend $9.6 million of redevelopment money on an affordable housing project that costs more than the total projected budget deficit for the city.

Although the funds now earmarked to demolish and rebuild a number of multifamily housing structures in the 2200 block of North Catalina Street cannot be legally used to fill the budget hole, the spending comes at a time when the future of the Redevelopment Agency — and its funding — remains uncertain.

In Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal released Monday, redevelopment agencies remain on the chopping block for a potential $1.7 billion in redirected revenues to the state.


There are no guarantees the agency’s multimillion-dollar loan to Burbank Housing Corporation would remain intact if the governor’s proposal is approved, city officials said.

The council voted 4 to 1 to transfer the redevelopment money to the housing agency, with Councilman David Gordon voicing the only dissent.

The project has long been a target for development after the city agency had tried to acquire the property more than 10 years ago but met resistance from the owner, said Ruth Davidson-Guerra, the city’s assistant director of community development.

Redevelopment officials called the units “severely substandard and dilapidated” in their report to the City Council, with an empty swimming pool being used for storage.

Calls to current residents of the units were not returned.

The 17 existing residential units will be demolished to make way for 16 two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units in five two-story buildings.

Many of the current residents qualify for low-income housing through the housing agency and would be given priority to move back into the units.

Gordon objected to the project as being too expensive.

“Not only do I think it’s too much, I think it’s the wrong time to be spending this money,” Gordon said.

Redevelopment officials argued the project was worthwhile, not only to add to the city’s affordable housing portfolio, but to improve the quality of life for the current residents.

“[The units] are potentially unhealthy, they’re potentially unsanitary, they’re cramped, so we really would be improving their lives,” said redevelopment project manager Ross Young.


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