SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Ground has been broken for what will become the largest veterans housing community in Orange County.
The ceremony was the first step in transforming an empty parking lot into a sanctuary of stability and hub of hope called Santa Ana Veterans Village.
Providing 75 permanent supportive housing units for homeless vets and their families, Santa Ana Veterans Village will be Orange County's largest housing development exclusively for veterans struggling the most - those earning no more than 30 percent of the area's median income.
"Nobody wants a handout. This isn't charity for the veterans. It's a hand-up," said Brigadier Gen. Denton Knapp, with the Tierney Center for Veteran Services.
The three-story housing development will feature one- and two-bedroom apartments facing a spacious courtyard with a community garden and a 4500 square foot community center housing several veteran service agencies to support residents as well as veterans in the wider community.
Among the services to be offered will be pro bono legal advice, counseling rooms and employment assistance.
Present for the groundbreaking was U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, who presided over a legal clash between homeless advocates and Orange county officials seeking to clear out homeless encampments along the Santa Ana River trail.
The judge, a Marine veteran himself, took a personal interest in the case, prompting an agreement between the two sides.
In a rare public address, Carter applauded the project.
"You've turned a corner," Carter said.
New OC project will provide housing for homeless veterans