A Life Transformed: ‘My kids and I have been blessed’

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YORBA LINDA, Calif. – When Sarah Jones lost her job and any chance at child support in one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States, the mother of four children had a difficult decision to make: Remove her kids from the community and schools they’d grown up in, or spend hours a day in traffic commuting back and forth.

She chose the latter, never giving up in her pursuit to find affordable housing in Orange County.

“I searched for months, did my homework, and I couldn’t find anything,” Sarah says. “Everyone knows how hard I’ve been trying to get back here, but Orange County and Southern California are very, very expensive.”

Her fortunes – and life – changed when Sarah heard about Oakcrest Terrace, a model affordable apartment community designed to meet the housing needs of the local workforce, seniors, veterans and families.

For her three-bedroom apartment, Sarah pays $1,275 per month – roughly half the average for a similar-sized unit in Orange County. Developed by National Community Renaissance (National CORE), one of the nation’s largest and most respected nonprofit community builders, Oakcrest Terrace features state-of-the-art design and building standards, supportive services, access to employment opportunities via freeways and public transit and an onsite 3,700-square-foot community center.

“My kids and I have been blessed,” Sarah says. “When we found out we could get in, I told them, ‘I don’t care what you’ve got, give me anything.’”

Sarah, who helps operate a day care facility, said the proximity to the 91 Freeway reduces her commute to work, which helps her spend more time volunteering at her kids’ activities, such as Pop Warner Football.

“It’s so important to them,” she says. “Taking them out of these programs or the schools they grew up in would have been very difficult.”

As for her living space, she had checked into other “affordable” housing communities, but they were either too expensive, unkempt or both.

“I’ve got a brand new unit. The flooring is great. Again, we just feel so fortunate.”

Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, President of the Hope through Housing Foundation, which partners with National CORE to provide supportive service, says stories such as Sarah’s show how unfortunate the stereotypes are of individuals and families who live in affordable housing.

“We’ve all needed help at one point or another in our lives,” Pinedo says. “In Sarah’s case, she is a hard-working, extremely dedicated mother who wants what is best for her children. As a society, we have an obligation to care and to help them rebuild their lives.”

Steve PonTell, President and Chief Executive officer of National CORE, says the need for affordable and accessible workforce housing – not just in Orange County but nationwide – has reached a critical point.

“The housing crisis is real, and it’s hard-working families like Sarah’s that are paying the price,” PonTell says. “Unfortunately, it is becoming harder and harder to build and develop apartment communities such as this because of funding and regulatory restrictions. In the case of Oakcrest Terrace, we’re extremely grateful for our partnership with the City of Yorba Linda, which understands this need and is committed to doing everything it can to support efforts such as this.”

About National CORE, Hope through Housing
National Community Renaissance, based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. National CORE manages nearly 9,000 affordable, senior and market-rate units in California, Arkansas, Texas and Florida. Over its nearly two decade history, the Hope through Housing Foundation has provided more than 2 million hours of transformational social services such as financial education and asset building training, senior wellness, and preschool and afterschool programs. For more information on National CORE and Hope through Housing, please visit www.nationalcore.org.

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