Burbank Housing is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit affordable housing company that has served a large constituency of the Northern California affordable housing market for over 40 years. has been the leader of affordable housing in Northern California. In late 2019, Burbank Housing’s CEO Larry Florin was contending with an unprecedented affordable housing crisis and attendant ramp in demand of housing development projects. These challenges were due to the growth of the local homeless population as well as the devastation caused by the cataclysmic events of October 2017: the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County and multiple wildfires in Napa County. In the aftermath of these events, Burbank Housing encountered numerous challenges to achieving its stated mission: "Burbank Housing is a local nonprofit dedicated to building quality affordable housing in the North Bay. We create vibrant local communities that are carefully designed, professionally managed, and sustainable both financially and environmentally, to foster opportunities for people with limited-income of all ages, backgrounds and special needs."
Similar to other affordable housing companies, Burbank Housing’s organizational structure consisted of a development department, a property management department, and a resident services department as their core organizational structure. The development department was charged with constructing new projects. Property management managed the rental properties once they were completed. Resident services provided various types of support programs for renters. Florin, who had been hired as CE0 in 2016 to provide sorely needed leadership at Burbank Housing, grappled with how to: (1) improve inter- and intra-departmental coordination, (2) manage the cash flows associated with new project development, and (3) systematize processes and procedures across the organization.
As he reviewed Burbank Housing’s most recent 2017 Strategic Plan, Florin discovered that little focus had been placed on improving the organization’s internal capacity to handle any future projects. Florin’s leadership team considered several opportunities to optimize the organization internally to handle the additional capacity in the pipeline. One opportunity, Yardi property management software, had already been partially implemented at Burbank Housing. Other opportunities included: (1) increasing the estimated cash flows for development projects, (2) automating processes in Property, (3) hiring a Yardi administrator to leverage the software’s use across departments and functions, (4) improving internal communication, (4) providing training and education for employees, (5) finding new ways to motivate employees. Yet Florin needed to prioritize these and other alternative courses of action for Burbank Housing. He pondered, “What is most important, and where should we start?”