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City to make housing more affordable

Laura Sturza

Affordable housing is moving up on the city’s list of priorities, and

the City Council wants to make residents more receptive to having

such housing in their neighborhoods.

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“Affordable housing is a dirty word,” Vice Mayor Stacey Murphy

said. “When you say to somebody ‘We want to do affordable housing,’

the nimby-ism comes out first and they say ‘Well, that’s great, let

me tell you what part of town I’d like it in.’”

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The City Council approved recommendations from its Blue Ribbon

Task Force on Affordable Housing at the council meeting Tuesday.

The task force included council members, Section 8 tenants,

nonprofit and for-profit residential developers and housing advocacy

groups. They developed a blueprint for expanding affordable- housing

options in a city that is already built out and has a high demand for

low- and moderate- income housing, a staff report said.

The task force’s suggestions address residents who are resistant

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to welcoming neighbors of lower-income levels, said Councilwoman

Marsha Ramos, who was the chairwoman of the task force. These ideas

include fostering stronger neighborhoods by integrating community

centers with housing developments, requiring developers to include a

percentage of affordable units in their buildings and developing

commercial/ residential projects in commercial zones.

“From what we’ve seen through the Burbank Housing Corporation,

where the income levels are diverse, the impact to the neighborhood

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is perceived to be very healthy,” Ramos said.

The city’s aim is to make Burbank a place where low- to

moderate-income wage earners can afford to live.

“We’re talking about my kids, our hospital workers, our teachers,

police officers ... such a broad range of people that ... we live and

work with everyday,” Murphy said. “We don’t realize how difficult it

is to get your foot in the door when it comes to home ownership, or

how hard it is to live in Burbank because our rental units are so

expensive right now.”

A 2001 study prepared for the city showed a shortage of 4,500

very low-income apartments and a lack of two- and three-bedroom

units for low-income renters. Rental fees for very low-income units

in 2002 range from $480 for a studio to $690 for a three bedroom.

Low-income rentals run $580 to $830.

The city already has programs to improve affordable-housing

options, including acquiring and rehabilitating existing buildings,

homeownership assistance and Section 8 rental assistance.


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