“Community engagement is about putting a face to the name and humanizing those whom we seek to house. It’s being on the ground to build a relationship between the developer and community members,” Assistant Development Manager Cynthia Mejia said. “Community engagement helps to ensure that our future properties reflect the needs of the area, fit into the context of the neighborhood and are responsive to the community’s culture.”
Before community members see a National CORE logo or beautiful new homes take shape, they see development staff – like Cynthia – who introduce proposed developments to a community. Striving to build a foundation of trust with residents and neighborhood stakeholders, Cynthia’s warm, convivial spirit has been the starting point for many of National CORE’s recent developments.
Cynthia introduces the organization and its mission and helps incorporate community feedback into the early development program and design.
She has supported early-on public approval efforts for such properties as Las Dahlias, Mountain View, Santa Angelina, Legacy Square and Orchard View Gardens, answering questions from the public, introducing the organization and its mission and helping incorporate community feedback into the early development program and design.
Effective outreach efforts can take anywhere from three months to a year and require extensive and intentional participation in places where community conversations occur. Community outreach also serves as part of a broader endeavor to educate community members about the realities of today’s affordable housing industry – such as National CORE’s focus on creating beautifully designed buildings that mesh with community aesthetics, incorporate sustainable construction features and deliver services that position residents to thrive.
A community outreach program might include driving to the neighborhood, hosting open houses to present information and answer questions from neighbors, setting up a booth at a community fair, meeting with organizations in the area through Zoom and knocking on doors to introduce the organization.
The result is more than just a new affordable housing community – it is the identification of resident leaders who will advocate for future affordable housing opportunities. This is a critical step in addressing the nation’s escalating housing crisis and in strengthening community support for more housing.
Cynthia has over 10 years of experience in public relations and managing outward-facing programs.
With a bachelor’s degree in public policy from UC Riverside, she elevates the connection between stable housing and improved health outcomes – because where someone calls home matters.
For four years, Cynthia has worked under the leadership of Alexa Washburn, National CORE senior vice president of planning and acquisitions, and Sandra Espadas, a National CORE community development manager.
“Cynthia approaches each opportunity with enthusiasm and manages her projects with grace. Team members, partners and clients appreciate her positive, even-keel, problem-solving attitude and perseverance,” Alexa said.
Sandra said working with Cynthia’s forward-thinking perspective is inspirational and a great addition to the small but mighty team.
Cynthia’s hard work and that of the development team is paying off – Mountain View in Lake Forest is open, Santa Angelina in Placentia will complete construction in about two months and Las Dahlias in East Los Angeles will follow. Orchard View Gardens will finish construction in mid-2024.