HomeCity NewsBurbank Advances Tiny Homes Village Plan

Burbank Advances Tiny Homes Village Plan

The Burbank City Council declared a citywide shelter crisis Tuesday and requested $3.45 million from a regional housing trust to fund ongoing efforts to transform a highway-adjacent parcel of land into the site of a tiny homes village for the city’s homeless population.

The Council directed city staff to move forward with design and community engagement steps for the site, which is currently leased to the Hollywood Piano store. It will serve as a one-stop shop for shelter housing, quality-of-life services such as laundry and storage, case management to help residents find permanent housing, mental health services and substance use rehabilitation, city staff said during the Tuesday meeting.

Mayor Nick Schultz called the decision “a crucial step forward in our commitment to providing comprehensive and compassionate support to those experiencing homelessness in our community.”

The city’s homeless population has fluctuated between about 250 and 300 unhoused individuals since 2020, though the most up-to-date counts are from 2022.

Burbank does not have a homeless shelter within city limits, so service providers are forced to connect those in need with shelter services in neighboring Glendale or Los Angeles.

“It is abundantly clear that Burbank currently lacks the capacity to adequately assist our existing unhoused population,” Schultz said. “By adopting the homeless shelter crisis resolution, we are taking proactive measures to address homelessness in Burbank, which in turn, allows us to maintain a safe and inclusive community.”

The selected site is not located near residential or commercial businesses but is positioned close to public transportation options — including the Metrolink station near Interstate 5 and numerous bus lines — making it an ideal location, according to city planning staff.

The proposed shelter includes 26 studio-style tiny homes designed for interim housing, offering a total of 49 shelter beds and 14 overnight parking spaces for those living within their non-RV vehicles.

The units are prefabricated, and would sit outside of the existing structure, which will be remodeled to suit various needs, including offices for caseworkers and security. Early renderings sport a modern exterior design with a massive “Burbank” painted on the facade, as the site is clearly visible from the highway.

Residents would have access to storage, parking and laundry services, while caseworkers work from on-site offices with room left over for communal amenities for program participants.

Establishing a shelter crisis in the city allows Burbank staff to expedite the development of the shelter, and cut through excess red tape, including certain environmental requirements including those outlined in the California Environmental Quality Act, according to Simone McFarland, assistant director of community development.

The City Council’s approval to request $3.45 million from the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Regional Housing Trust will contribute to the project’s total estimated cost of $5 million.

In 2022, the state Senate passed legislation establishing a housing trust between Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena. Written by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, the bill’s purpose was to fund affordable housing and to assist the homeless population in the region. It came with an initial wave of $23 million in funding for the three cities to spend on housing and shelters.

Additional funding for this initiative will be drawn from various sources, including Community Development grants and a Measure H grant.

Next steps will include conducting community outreach efforts, finalizing funding requests from the Regional Housing Trust, identifying services for Burbank’s unhoused and streamlining Planning and Building Code requirements to adhere to community needs.

First published in the April 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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