As Eduardo Garcia passed Santa Ana’s new Legacy Square housing community on his daily commute, he would longingly watch as residents hauled boxes of belongings into their new homes.

He wondered when it would be his turn.

His family – two boys, his wife and a baby on the way – were squeezed into a nearby one-bedroom apartment – and even that swallowed a huge chunk of his salary as an injection tester for a diesel company.

The apartment was cramped but still a step up from the mobile home they lived in just a few years earlier. And, while both were miles better than the abandoned car he sheltered in as a young man, Eduardo wanted more for his family.

So, he listened when his wife told him to apply for the National CORE affordable housing community.

“I wasn’t sure if I should take the risk,” he said. “But something clicked in my head. I thought about my baby girl who’s due soon and the one-bedroom apartment my family was living in, and I got on it right away.”

Weeks passed without a word as the community slowly filled. And then the call came.

“When I got the news, I called my wife right away, and she was so excited and happy for our family because this is something that we didn’t think we were going to be able to get into,” Eduardo said.

His 10-year-old son is thrilled with the new space and even his 2-year-old seems excited to be in the new environment.

“Seeing them happy brings me joy because my kids are my everything and I want what’s best for them,” Eduardo said. “They have all this room now compared to the old apartment, so they run around. I’m also thankful for the park down here because it helps me tire them out.”

Now fully settled, the Garcia family will take advantage of the fun activities the property will organize for residents, in addition to enrolling their children in the onsite after-school program.

Legacy Square bases rent on a percentage of the average median income – and all residents must earn less than 60% of that median. That means Eduardo’s paycheck goes much further today than before he moved in.

With the extra money, the family is preparing for the arrival of their daughter in August.

“This took a huge weight off of me. I feel less stressed and more hopeful that everything will keep going well,” he said. “Little by little, more doors are opening for us, and it’s in part due to this place. Santa Ana is our home and to be able to stay here – it can’t get any better.”