Tomorrow night the council members are being asked to approve the city’s Housing Plan. Basically what this means is that they’re being asked to validate staff’s running of the city’s Section 8 program.
Through public meetings and various other communications, staff notes in their report that one of the biggest concerns of their potential Section 8 clients is the high cost of housing in Burbank. To address these complaints, staff then buried this partial explanation into one of their footnotes:
The problem here? It’s not true.
Chalk another one up to the City of Burbank’s constant desire to kiss the ass of its landlord class. “It’s not their fault that our Burbank rents are so high! It’s the market. And the neighborhoods are also to blame!”
Sorry, but the big variance in Burbank rents has nothing to do with its “neighborhoods” (we’ve already dealt with their “marketplace” myth earlier). Burbank is a pretty homogeneous place now — it’s not like 1970 any more, where we might have seen a big discrepancy between rents off of Kenneth Rd versus rents off of San Fernando Blvd or West Verdugo. There are cheaper and/or more expensive places all over town now.
No, the deciding factor in Burbank now is whoever the landlord is and what they wish to charge. Units long owned by the same landlord are — more often than not — floated onto the local Burbank rental market at the same market or near-market rates as everyone else. In other words, they are the exact same rents that the newer owners of the buildings ask for and receive.
There are some exceptions of course, but not many. Most landlords nowadays gouge their Burbank tenants for as much as they can get in a market that they know is fixed. Are the Cusumanos for instance giving huge discounts on the buildings that they have owned for 40 years?
Or 20 or 30 years?
The solution of course is to impose rent control in Burbank just like we do utilities. It’s day will surely come.
This figure from tomorrow night’s report on the number of Section 8 applications they received is just extraordinary:
Can you imagine such a number? These grants are transportable, too, which means that any recipient can move away to anywhere else in the country and still get money from Burbank for Section 8. Which in a weird way might ameliorate the high cost of living in Burbank.
A couple of questions here:
- How many applications were from out of Burbank? Staff doesn’t say.
- How many current Section 8 grants are being used outside of Burbank?
Another question. Will the council members tomorrow night finally get a clear explanation of how these individual Section 8 grants are awarded?
Dr. Gordon tried to ask staff about this several years ago. What he got in response was total and complete gobbledygook.
According to staff’s ridiculous explanation, the criteria and “filters” they use ultimately means that only disabled homeless veterans with children who live in Burbank and are unemployed and destitute can get on Section 8 in Burbank. But that could not possibly be the case.
So who gets chosen for Section 8 in Burbank? For real? Why isn’t there a lottery process being used so that you know where you stand as an applicant? And how come Burbank also refuses to offer an appeal or review process for the people who get thrown off the waiting list through the city’s now-regular “purging” process?
Such as the homeless, who either don’t have or lose their addresses. Burbank automatically tosses people of the Section 8 waiting list if they don’t have an address and don’t get the official purge notices. The city never publicly announces the purging time period, either.
Glendale has an appeals/readmittance process for such situations. Burbank instead likes to punish its applicants.**
That’s exactly what it is. Staff runs this program in an immensely punitive way as compared to other local agencies. There is a COMPLETE lack of transparency in how they award their grants, and then they get nasty and evasive about it whenever you ask.
Staff also loves to insinuate to the council at these yearly approval meetings that HUD is always complimenting Burbank on its administration of its Section 8 program, as if this is a triumphant validation of the way that Burbank does things.
But HUD does not rate these agencies on their specific policies. Merely their accountancy. The agencies instead are given wide discretion in how they administer their local Section 8 grant programs.
Which Burbank of course takes clear advantage of … to be and stay Burbank in its essential chickenshit-ness.
Why else does Glendale have a more fair program?
** During their last big purge in 2013, the City of Burbank didn’t even tell BTAC about it. At the very least, BTAC could have put notices up and informed its clients about the move.