Getting to a quarter century in business, or really anything, is something to be proud of, and last Thursday, the Burbank Housing Corporation did just that and held a dinner and celebration at the Terrace Restaurant & Lounge.
Beginning in 1997, the Burbank Housing Corporation (BHC) has been dedicated to serving low-income households through its affordable housing program and resident services.
The event was held among 100 people and included elected officials, community leaders, service partners, and key supporters who were recognized for being supportive and committed to BHC’s success.
The BHC also provides four activity centers, which serve as a central location for residents to access essential services, such as a free after-school program, low-cost summer camp, educational workshops, health services, a new resource center, and much more.
BHC began with 59 rental units on West Elmwood Avenue and now has created 322 homes and hopes to advance its mission and further enhance the lives of its residents for years to come.
Sylvia Moreno is the Executive Director of the BHC and explained BHC’s mission statement.
“BHC is a non-profit affordable housing developer. We were established in 1997, and we provide affordable housing to low-income residents in Burbank. All of our portfolios are here in Burbank. In addition to housing, we also provide resident resources and services for families in most need,” she said. “We also own two childcare centers. We have about 180 spaces, and 20 percent of the spaces are dedicated for low-income residents.”
Moreno added: “We own and manage 322 affordable units. Out of those 322, there are 20 units dedicated for transitional housing. We house homeless families with children,” she said. “We have a program for victims of domestic abuse. We have emancipated teens and we do that in partnership with Home Again LA and Family Service Agency and their local nonprofits here in Burbank.”
Moreno is proud of BHC’s work.
“I love my organization and everything it represents. BHC is not your typical affordable housing developer. We really truly care and love our city. We care about our beautiful city,” she said. “We take care of our residents and the youth, and we also make sure they receive the support services they need in order to work on the day-to-day struggles.”
Thursday’s event was extremely satisfying, and it only reinforced the BHC directive.
“It’s huge for us. It’s a huge milestone for BHC,” Moreno said. “We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished in this city and we’re proud of it. It’s very gratifying to work for Burbank Housing Corporation. I’ve been an employee for 22 years and I love this organization and everything it represents.”
Moreno says affordable housing is essential, and BHC’s work is always ongoing.
“What I can say about affordable housing is that there is never enough. People talk about how to prevent homelessness. Let me tell you how you prevent homelessness. You provide more affordable housing in our community,” she said. “There’s never enough. I wish there were additional funding forces for what we do best.”
Like Moreno, Raha Arnold, the Director of Operations and Asset Management, is a longtime employee and is glad that BHC is available.
“I’ve been with BHC for almost 15 years. I was an asset manager prior to, so my job is to work with our third-party management company to make sure our tenants are taken care of. This company is like no other. There are a lot of affordable housing developers out there, but what we do is to make sure our families are truly taken care of,” she said. “We provide affordable units, and make sure they are clean, sanitary, and beautiful. You walk by any one of our properties, and you will know it’s a BHC property.”
Arnold went on: “And besides that, we do our best to provide supportive services to our tenants. To our youth, and to our tenants in general. We have a scholarship. We have after-school programs. We bring different types of clinics to our activity center. They need these extra special services to be able to make their lives rich and better. If our tenants need something, if we are able to do it, we can, and we will. I can truly say that I love this organization. I’m very proud of it. I feel I am blessed to be a part of it because what we do here is extraordinary.”
State Senator Anthony Portantino was at the event and spoke about BHC’s importance.
“This is 25 years of the Burbank Housing Corporation creating affordable housing and making Burbank a place that welcomes people of all income levels, and we are celebrating that tonight and as they just said, as much money as they can get, they’re spending it wisely and putting it in the right place and hopefully we can continue to put more resources toward desperately needed affordable housing,” he said.
Portantino continued: “It also says that Burbank is a welcoming place, and we’re putting our resources front and center to create more housing to bring people to this wonderful city,” he said.
Emily Lopez is the Community Outreach Manager and echoed a similar sentiment as her colleagues.
“You can tell how important this organization is by how long our staff has been here. Our executive director has been here 22 years. I started as an office assistant. I’ve been here for seven years. In my current position, my key role is to connect with our residents and to make sure that the services that we’re providing are relevant to their needs,” she said. “What happened during the pandemic really pushed us out of our comfort zone, so we were really focused on youth programs and that’s what we were doing for a long time and several events here and there. With the pandemic, we were really trying to think about how this was affecting our families and it was catastrophic for some and we were able to put work together as a team.”
Lopez added: “We’re a small office. The fact that we did so much in the time that there were so many constraints is really telling of our commitment to be serving our community and making sure it’s something,” she said. “That living with BHC isn’t just low rent, it’s additional services that family feels supported, that they can continue working a full-time job and not have to worry where their children are going to be and that we support our youth and making sure they go to college. This year we’re starting a new scholarship for our older adults who want to go back to school, so we’re always thinking about our residents and how we can better serve them because needs change all the time and that’s something we try to be adaptable to.”
Lopez recognized the importance of partners and the city of Burbank.
“It feels great to have the support of the community and our partners here, especially at this event. The paramedic is slowing ending, but not everybody feels comfortable, so the fact that people have shown up today is really important to us,” she said. “We’re just excited about continuing our partnerships and this celebration to be with the people that have made it possible. We have gotten so much from the city and one of our key partners working with the community development department. We wouldn’t be where we are and grow the way we did without the city and our partners.”