Burbank Temporary Aid Center to expand following planning board approval

The Burbank Temporary Aid Center will move forward with plans to expand its operation into a commercial building next door after receiving the unanimous green light on the proposal from the Burbank Planning Board on Monday.

The nonprofit, which annually serves 300 homeless people and 3,000 low-income Burbank households, will use the building at 1308 W. Burbank Blvd., which used to house a post-production company, to create food storage pantries, two offices and a laundry room.

Operators said with the expansion, they’ll be serving the same number of clients with some much-needed elbow room. In the center’s current facility, food bins are reportedly stacked 9 feet above ground, and clients often spill out of the lobby and must stand outside while waiting to be seen.

The agency serves dozens of households daily, providing about 45 lunches, 22 showers, nine loads of laundry, 25 grocery orders and six case-management sessions, said Barbara Howell, the agency’s chief executive officer.

Every morning before the center opens, a handful of people are usually waiting to shower, do laundry or pick up food, she added. The agency also provides gas and taxi vouchers as well as bus tokens.

Clients may stay between five and 45 minutes, depending on the type of service they’re receiving.

“We want to have people come in and feel like they’re being treated with dignity and respect,” Howell said. “We’re not planning on adding more staff. We’re not adding more volunteers — it’s really just about reorganizing the space so that we can serve our clients better.”

The nonprofit acquired the 2,150-square-foot, one-story building last year for $560,000 with the help of a $250,000 Community Development Block grant distributed by the city, according to a city report.

For four years, staff and clients have felt squeezed in the current digs, located at 1304 W. Burbank Blvd.

“We have found ourselves practically sitting on top of each other as we try to help people,” Howell said.

For the board, the decision appeared to be a no-brainer.

“I think this is just a great project. It’s great that it is right next door,” said board member Douglas Drake. “It should be very easy to do the transformation.”

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World