Santa Ana, Calif. – National Community Renaissance (National CORE), the Santa Ana United Methodist Church, and their partners are proud to celebrate the groundbreaking of Legacy Square, an affordable housing community that represents an emerging method to fight California’s raging housing affordability crisis: using underutilized church land for affordable housing.

Over the past three years, National CORE has created partnerships with five churches in five cities across Southern California to build affordable housing on underutilized church land. These future affordable housing sites are at different stages in the development process, and Legacy Square in Santa Ana is the first to begin construction.

“When Santa Ana United Methodist Church saw those who needed a safe place to stay, we provided a home by repurposing a church campus into a place where people could feel secure,” said Douglas P. Gillen, Chairman of the Board of Santa Ana United Methodist Church.

As Southern California affordable developers continue to face challenges finding vacant sites, churches – which often own large plots of land within established residential neighborhoods – are experiencing less in-person participation at services. As religious organizations consider what comes next, many are finding that the development of affordable housing onsite is an exciting opportunity to use their land to further their service to their community.

“National CORE thanks the Santa Ana United Methodist Church and other religious organizations for repurposing under-utilized land to provide much needed housing for vulnerable populations,” said National CORE President/CEO Steve PonTell. “It is a great way to honor their past service to the community, while creating a new legacy for the future.”

In 2017, National CORE and Blessed Sacrament Episcopal Church in Placentia, CA began discussions to build affordable housing on the church’s property. Today, the proposed Santa Angelina Senior Housing community would consist of two two-story buildings on either side of the church, providing 64 affordable apartment homes, including 21 homes set aside as permanent supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

In the City of Buena Park, National CORE is partnering with St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church to transform the vacant northern portion of the church’s land into Orchard View Gardens Senior Housing, which would provide 66 affordable apartment homes for seniors. Throughout the development process, careful consideration has been taken to ensure the character and scale of the new housing complements the architecture of the church and surrounding neighborhood.

In Nestor, a neighborhood in southern San Diego, National CORE and the Nestor United Methodist Church are close to finalizing the financing for a new development on the church’s land that would provide 74 units of supportive housing for seniors experiencing homelessness and mental illness. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022.

And in Riverside, National CORE has partnered with the La Sierra University Church to develop Vista de La Sierra, a beautiful community on the church’s land providing 80 affordable apartment homes, 34 of which would be reserved for permanent supportive housing.

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About National Community Renaissance (National CORE)

National CORE is one of the nation’s premier affordable housing developers, building award-winning communities and creating a platform for individual and community change. National CORE creates strong, healthy communities where residents can thrive. In partnership with the Hope through Housing Foundation, National CORE provides impactful resident programs and services to help children and teens achieve success, improve families’ financial well-being, and promote senior health and wellness. For more information on National CORE, please visit

About Santa Ana United Methodist Church

Santa Ana United Methodist Church is a multicultural, multi-language, and multi-generational community of faith – Cambodian, Caucasian, Filipino, French, Korean, Mexican, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Tongan – living into and living out our UNITY in Jesus Christ. In today’s world of racial tensions, we strive to live out our primary identity as beloved CHILDREN OF GOD. For more information on the Santa Ana United Methodist Church, please visit