Modern Home Builder - Winter 2016 - Volume 2 - 134
Burbank Housing - Catalina Townhomes
SAFE AND SOUND
Burbank Housing has maintained a high safety rate during the
Catalina Townhomes project, Senior Project Manager Tom Kuhn
says. Not only does a safety associate visit the site weekly, "We
have safety meetings where supervisors meeting with participants
talk to them about the tasks coming up," Kuhn says. "With every
new task, there's potential safety information to know."
The future residents "do all the prep for the foundations, including
the rebar, and we bring in a company that does the actual pour,"
Catalina Townhomes will consist of 60 homes when complete.
Each will stand two stories and cover 1,300 to 1,600 square feet.
"They also have two-car garages," Kuhn says, noting that they will
be Energy Star homes.
Work started on the first 32 units one year ago and will be finished later this year. The remaining 28, he notes, will be finished
this December. "Our construction timelines are a little longer than
Burbank Housing has built and managed affordable rental housing for approximately
3,000 households and helped lower the homeless population in its area.
for a contractor-built homes," Kuhn says, noting that its homebuyers have to work when it fits their schedules. "Almost all of our
participants cover their work obligation on the weekends."
"We probably have over 100 homebuyers working," he continues,
but notes that the buyers do not have to do the work alone. "They're
allowed to get people to help them, which in many cases are family
members. On Saturdays, we can easily have 150 to 200 of these
participants who were previously untrained in construction."
Some homebuyers do have construction training, which makes
things easier for Burbank Housing's supervisors. "We try to make
the maximum use of their knowledge," Kuhn says, noting that Burbank's supervisors guide them through the construction on a dayby-day basis.
Burbank Housing acquired the land for Catalina Townhomes in
2007, but due to declining real estate values, the project became
financially unfeasible. Then, once values rebounded, Burbank
has had significant issues finding qualified buyers.
"In years past, we haven't had much difficulty with projects
like this," Kuhn recalls.
"The problem is a lot of people in this demographic only got
through the great recession with their credit cards," he explains,
noting that the homebuyers require an employment history, a
good credit rating and debt payments low enough to qualify for
The buyers also have to fall within affordability requirements set
by the funding sources. "People can't earn more than 80 percent of
the area median income for this project, adjusted for family size,"
Another challenge Burbank Housing encountered was designing the homes in the face of changing regulations. "We're
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