Families Forward opens affordable housing complex in Costa Mesa

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For five families who were once homeless, the phrase “home for the holidays” now has new meaning.

Families Forward, HomeAid Orange County, Landsea Homes, Matrix Construction Services and Marx Okubo Associates partnered to open an eight-unit affordable-housing complex in Costa Mesa this month.

Located on 21st Street, the complex features newly renovated two-bedroom, one-bathroom residences.


Five local families have been selected as tenants. One moved in on Christmas Eve and the others are expected to do so by New Year’s Day.

Families Forward, an Irvine-based nonprofit that has worked with homeless families for 35 years, is processing applications for the three remaining units.

The organization’s board of directors decided to purchase the property and partner with HomeAid Orange County — another nonprofit that works to end homelessness — and housing developers to fund, repair and bring the homes up to city codes.

Madelynn Hirneise, chief executive of Families Forward, estimated that 80% of necessary materials, such as roofing, were donated.

“One of our core values is that the family would be proud to live there,” Hirneise said.

At the request of Families Forward, the Daily Pilot is not publishing the complex’s exact address.

Families who have lost housing and have at least one child are prioritized. The units are rented out for about $1,000 per month to low-income families earning $35,000 to $40,000 a year. Families Forward uses a coordinated entry application and a school liaison to get referrals for the housing program, which enables children to remain in their schools.

“The goal of our units is to make sure that we can help families get back on their feet and improve economic mobility [and] move into some type of home ownership,” Hirneise said.

Along with housing, the organization offers counseling, career coaching and life skills training with the goal of helping clients achieve financial stability.

“I think all of us can probably relate to being a paycheck or crisis away from potentially losing housing,” Hirneise said. “It’s our honor to be able to see a family get back into housing and flourish.”

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