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Burbank nonprofit will open its waiting list for affordable apartment units to low-income families

For the last five years, the Burbank Housing Corp. has had to tell low-income families from Burbank that none of the properties it manages have openings. However, that will change near the end this month.

From Jan. 26 through Feb. 10, the nonprofit is opening its waiting list for extremely low-income, very low-income and low-income households, allowing individuals and families to apply for a chance to live in one of the housing agency's 320 apartments. The income categories were established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The affordable units range from about $380 to $760 a month, depending on the gross income of the individual or family.

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Judith Arandes, executive director of the nonprofit, said that unlike a normal waiting list, where people who apply are placed at the bottom of the list on a first-come, first-served basis, the nonprofit will conduct a lottery drawing for those who applied.

"We felt that a lottery system was a much fairer way of picking people," she said. "We take all of the applications that come in, sort them out by category and then do a lottery [by category]."

Arandes said she had to close the waiting lists five years ago because the number of people waiting for an apartment was too high.

"At any given time, there's 400 people on those lists," she said. "I closed the list[s] because I don't believe in having those 7,000 people or more [on] lists when you only have 320 apartments. It doesn't make sense to have a list that is too big to manage. So, whenever a certain category reaches a certain level, we close it until we process the remaining applications."

Fortunately for the Burbank Housing Corp., enough applications were processed to allow people to sign up again, Arandes said.

The turnover rate for an apartment to open is so low because not many of those who are enrolled in the program leave it. Also, because there is a such a shortage of affordable housing in Burbank, some applicants have waited as long as five years for a chance to be a part of the nonprofit's housing program, Arandes said.

"If we can't develop more units, we can't serve the number of people who need it," she said.

Arandes said she is excited to open up the waiting lists again.

"There's a limited amount of spaces, but we're giving people a chance," she said.

To learn more about the Burbank Housing Corp.'s affordable housing program, visit burbankhousingcorp.org.

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Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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