Casa Querencia


Goal: Build upon the success of The Orchard by creating a ground up development targeting chronically homeless in further pursuit of our mission to end homelessness in Orange County.

Casa Querencia, formerly known as The Aqua, services the special needs of individuals living with chronic homelessness including mental and physical disabilities. Property managers, case managers and community service providers are available on-site offering services, classes, and programming for the tenants. Its location is ideally situated among over two dozen public, social and health service providers, most within a ten-minute walk of the Casa Querencia community. Access to public transit on 17th Street and the nearby Main Street, further connect residents to the services that can help them seek stability and wellness in their lives.

Along the western portion of the property are a variety of outdoor community spaces each designed to serve the different emotional and social needs of the residents. The community building features various amenities including shared dining and living rooms and spaces for physical and mental exercise. Atop the podium deck is a community deck that can be used for social gatherings or organized activities like yoga. To the northwest portion of the site is a lawn area for sports and other leisure activities as well as organic community garden beds, and barbecue area.


The development includes a series of three buildings, two consisting of mostly dwelling units and the third hosting community amenities, on-site management and spaces for service providers. These interlocking bar-buildings are connected by a series of open walkways, engaging staircases, and an elevator. The open walkways and staircases are designed to maximize residents’ access to natural light and air while maintaining strong visual connections throughout the community. The landscape balances the desire for a lush environment with the local semi-arid climate using drought tolerant and California native plants.

Financing includes multiple layers of subsidies including project based vouchers from the City of Santa Ana, SNHP funds from the County of Orange, and an Infill Infrastructure Grant from the State of California in addition to low income housing tax credit and tax exempt bond financing.

  • Number of units: 57
  • Lot size: .95 acres
  • Density: 63.3 units/acre
  • Unit size: 407-552 ft2
  • Unit mix: 12 Studios, 45 1BD/1BA
  • Parking Spaces: 36
  • Affordability: 30% - 60% AMI
  • Sustainability: LEED Gold
  • Total Cost: $31.3M
  • Architect: Architecture Design Collaborative
  • Design Concept: CityFabrick
  • Contractor: Walton Construction Services
  • Property Management: FPI
  • Non-Profit General Partner: Mercy House and Integrity Housing


CDP is proud to partner with these organizations, dedicated to bettering the lives not only of Casa Querencia’s residents, but of those lower-income residents in surrounding communities.

Mercy House

Mercy House Living Centers is the lead services provider for Casa Querencia, delivering high quality supportive services that are designed to help families and individuals maintain stable housing and generate positive changes in their lives.

For over 25 years, Mercy House has provided supportive services and comprehensive resident services to families, individuals, homeless, chronically homeless, and disabled individuals in Orange County. Mercy House staff has extensive knowledge of needs and barriers faced by the families and chronically homeless in our community, and they utilize a variety of resources and service coordination partnerships imperative to their success.

Case managers are responsible for providing organized social, recreational and enrichment activities for residents. They provide tenants with information about available services in the community, assisting tenants to access services through referral and advocacy, and organizing community-building and/or enrichment activities for tenants (such as holiday events, tenant council, etc.). Adult educational, health and wellness, or skill building classes will also be available to residents. These include, but are not limited to: financial literacy, computer training, home-buyer education, GED, resume building, ESL, nutrition, exercise, health information/awareness, art, parenting, on-site food cultivation and preparation, and smoking cessation classes.

Faces of Santa Ana

Led by founder Brian Peterson, Faces of Santa Ana is a passion project where he set out to befriend and paint portraits of the homeless community in Santa Ana, CA. He then sells the artwork and use proceeds to help in rehabilitating his newfound friends. The mission of Faces of Santa Ana is to locally help those in need in cities around the world while also inspiring and activating creatives and supporters of the movement. Brian believes that the creativity he’s been given is meant for the outward pouring of love. Brian will be leading the art planning and execution at The Aqua.