National CORE’s partnership with Santa Ana United Methodist Church to create an affordable housing community on church grounds has helped both organizations fulfill a mission of service to the community.

The two organizations partnered with government agencies and community groups to create Legacy Square, a 93-unit development that includes 33 homes for people who have experienced homelessness. Priority for the housing is given to Santa Ana residents.

Legacy Square, which also brought a new park and a host of transit-related benefits to the community, celebrated its grand opening on June 21.

“By partnering with National CORE, Santa Ana United Methodist Church becomes a part of the solution to the city’s acute lack of affordable housing while remaining true to who we are as people of faith who are called to love God with everything we’ve got and love our neighbor as ourselves,” said Rev. N. Adiel A. DePano, lead pastor with the Santa Ana United Methodist Church.

“The name ‘Legacy Square’ is significant to us because we view the beautiful complex of 93 units of affordable housing and permanent supportive housing as perpetuating the legacy of the Church as a force for good, a champion of the common good, and doing it with community partners,” DePano said.

For National CORE, working with the church provided a solution to one of the most difficult challenges facing affordable housing developers – finding land on which to build.

The per-unit cost to build new affordable housing is driven by a mix of limited land and high-cost land, labor and materials. Meanwhile, churches, which often own large plots of land in residential neighborhoods, are facing dwindling in-person congregations and are looking for ways to use this excess land to serve their communities.

Legacy Square represents National CORE’s first partnership with a church; four more are on the horizon. Three of these communities will be completed this year: Santa Angelina in Placentia, Vista de La Sierra in Riverside and Nestor Senior Village in San Diego. A fifth community, Orchard View Gardens in Buena Park, will break ground in August.