Affordable housing projects have always been tough to pay for, but at least now more local officials are recognizing them as a key need, says the incoming CEO for the nonprofit homebuilder Burbank Housing Management Corp.

Lawrance Florin, who assumed the reins of the organization on Dec 12, says public safety and traffic typically rank as big issues, but “now at this moment affordable housing has reached that level” of a top priority. Florin replaces Charles A. (Chuck) Cornell, who retired this year after 19 years with Burbank, including more than three as both its executive director and chief financial officer.

Florin, 60, has worked three decades in both the public and private sector. He most recently served as Napa County’s director of housing and intergovernmental affairs in Napa, overseeing such issues as community development and affordable housing.

“He understands what Burbank Housing means to families and partners across our community and we’re confident in the vision he’s bringing to the organization at such a critical time for affordable housing in Sonoma County,” Burbank board member Elizabeth Lehrer said in a statement.

Florin earlier worked a decade as an assistant to the mayor in San Francisco. His assignments included the redevelopment of the former Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard and Treasure Island. Florin went on to form a real estate development and management company that was late acquired by Lennar, a national publicly traded homebuilding company.

He served nine years as a division president with the company.

The nonprofit employs more than 150 workers and has 109 units under development in the county. It just completed the first phase of its 60-unit Catalina Townhomes project in southwest Santa Rosa. The buyers, who invested 25 hours or more a week in sweat equity for two years, received the keys last week for the first 32 homes. The project’s second phase is expected to be completed in 2018.