Some of the city’s 17,000 disabled residents will continue waiting
while the builders of Burbank’s first fully accessible, subsidized
housing project look for more funding.
“We’ll get it done,” said Ronald Cohen, executive director of
United Cerebral Palsy for Los Angeles and surrounding counties.
“These are for the poorest of the poor.”
The $4.4-million project is a partnership between the nonprofit
group, which secured more than $2.1 million from the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, and the city, which contributed 17,500
square feet of land worth $600,000, plus $400,000 in federal funding
awarded to the city. The remainder of the cost is being covered by
Funding was committed to the project, although Cohen and city
officials did not initially have statistics available when asked
about how many disabled people live in Burbank, or how money was
promised without those figures readily available. The number of
disabled residents is based on 2000 Census figures.
The 18-unit apartment building was planned for an October opening
at 600 San Fernando Road, but is on hold until another $350,000 of a
$700,000 shortfall can be secured.
Because obtaining a HUD grant means designing the building comes
after the money is promised by the agency, there is no way to know
actual costs until the project is underway, Cohen said of the
shortfall. United Cerebral Palsy has spent $500,000 on engineering,
architectural and legal fees, “and we’ve got to go on,” Cohen said.
Construction fees will be cut by $245,000 through design changes,
and United Cerebral Palsy has raised an added $100,000, said Duane
Solomon, the city’s housing development manager. The nonprofit is
continuing fund-raising through corporations, foundations and
The City Council directed city staff to start work on building
accessible housing in 2000 in response to disabled residents who said
they were having trouble finding units for people who are not
seniors, Solomon said.
Not all of Burbank’s disabled are in search of new housing, but “a
number of people on fixed incomes with disabilities do not live in
ideal situations,” said Eric Hansen, city liaison to the Burbank
Advisory Council on Disabilities.
The building will include amenities necessary for people with
varying degrees of mobility, those with sight impairment and others
who are developmentally disabled. These include roll-in showers,
lowered wall switches, raised wall outlets, an emergency call button
to the manager and a large community room.
Resident Rory Zipp has to move from her apartment, and could not
wait for the new building. The 56-year-old polio survivor is on
oxygen 24 hours a day.
“I’ve just about killed myself a few times in the current place
I’m in,” Zipp said of the shower at her apartment.
She is moving into a senior complex that will accommodate her
needs, and joins the ranks of people who have made similar transfers.