rendering of St Joseph Villa

Converting a Historic Home for Catholic Sisters into New Homes for Seniors

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, a Mercy Housing Founding Community, have a rich history in the city of Orange, California that goes back more than 100 years. Members of the order have gathered, studied, prayed, and made their homes in a striking brick “Motherhouse” serving as the operational heart of their campus in Orange since its construction in 1960. Surrounded by palm trees and biblical sculptures, the Motherhouse has served as both a residence and community space for the Sisters.

Sisters of St Joseph of Orange Motherhouse

A few years ago, the Sisters’ leadership took stock of the way the housing crisis had impacted their Orange County community and recognized that their Motherhouse, and the land on which it sat, could serve a new purpose. Thanks to their generous and justice-oriented mindset, Mercy Housing California (MHC) will redevelop the Motherhouse building into Villa St. Joseph, a new residential community for Orange’s seniors and veterans.

“It is with great joy that we open the door to the first steps that will lead to the birth of Villa St. Joseph!” said Sister Mary Beth Ingham, General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, in a statement. “As Sisters of St. Joseph have done since our earliest days, we continue to extend our mission of unity, hospitality, and welcome as we open our hearts to create a home for those in need, now in collaboration with Mercy Housing. May St. Joseph our Patron, himself a builder, continue to guide the renovation efforts, and may all who dwell with us be abundantly blessed.”

“We are thrilled to honor our deep partnership with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange by transforming their historic Motherhouse into a thriving community of 50 homes in which seniors can age in health and dignity,” continued Ed Holder, MHC Vice President of Real Estate Development.

When it was at its most active, the Motherhouse was home to up to 60 Sisters living communally. MHC will convert the space into 50 affordable apartment homes, including a new entrance, offices, and a community room. In addition to serving as the developer and property manager, Mercy Housing will provide free, onsite Resident Services to all seniors residing at Villa St. Joseph. For residents who formerly experienced homelessness, the County of Orange Health Care Agency’s Adult and Older Adult Behavioral Health program will provide services tailored to individual needs, including case management, mental health services, crisis intervention, therapeutic groups, substance abuse services, and referrals to other services when applicable.

Expected to welcome its first residents in 2024, Villa St. Joseph represents a new chapter for a well-loved space. Thank you to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, for their generous and forward-looking commitment to advancing housing justice.