Jeff Burum speaks Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 at “An Evening of Hope,” the 25th annual gala of National Community Renaissance, a non-profit affordable housing development company he co-founded 25 years ago. Burum was named chairman of that group, as well as the non-profit Hope Through Housing Foundation, which was the beneficiary of the gala. (Ryan Beck/Contributed image)

By Richard K. De Atley | rdeatley@scng.com | The Press-Enterprise
Published: November 3, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Updated: November 4, 2017 at 1:25 am

Barely two months after his acquittal in the Colonies bribery case, developer Jeff Burum stood in front of a standing ovation crowd Thursday night at the Fairplex Conference Center stage in Pomona to resume leadership of the affordable housing non-profit he co-founded 25 years ago.

Burum voluntarily stepped down eight years ago as chairman of the board of National Community Renaissance and its sister non-profit charitable organization Hope Through Housing Foundation — during the years the Colonies case coursed through the courts after a 2011 indictment.

He was returned to the chairmanship of both organizations this week and was greeted by a crowd of about 850 people gathered at a gala celebrating the creation of National Community Renaissance, also called National CORE, by Burum and Andrew Wright a quarter-century ago.

“I’m so proud to be back,” he said.

National CORE is a non-profit developer for affordable housing projects. Hope Through Housing Foundation was created in 1998 as a charitable organization to help people in affordable housing with education programs such as on-site preschools, as well as senior health and debt reduction.

The gala was to benefit Hope Through Housing Foundation.

“My life is back,” Burum said in an interview shortly after stepping off the stage at Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center in Pomona, where his appearance included a surprise presentation by Burum and wife Kellie’s two children.

“This was an integral part of my life for the last 25-30 years,” he said of the affordable housing work. It’s who I was. People don’t know that. But I ran this, I loved it … it’s what I did to make me feel good.

“And to have that missing, as part of you, and when the FBI raids it to make it look somehow like what you did here was corrupt — and I have to stay away until it’s over — it’s one of the unjust unfairnesses that happened. But tonight, it’s behind me. It’s behind me. My life is ahead.

“My life is now about how many more people we can help in the next 25 years.”

Jurors acquitted Burum, along with former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, the chief of staff for former Supervisor Gary Ovitt on Aug. 28.

At least 10 of the jurors attended the fundraising dinner Thursday. The group has kept in touch with each other and the former defendants on social media and were invited to the gala.

“When I came into the trial as a juror, I knew nothing about any of the defendants,” said former panelist Daniel Morris, 32, of Redlands. “The only thing I knew that they told me at the trial was that Jeff Burum was a developer. I didn’t know anything (else) that he was involved in.”

Learning after the trial of Burum’s involvement in the non-profit affordable housing organizations “just makes me happier with my decision,” Morris said. “To see what Jeff does for the community, I think he is an awesome guy.”

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