Organizations Profiles

Margarita Lopez to Serve as Executive VP of NYCHA

Margarita Lopez of NYCHA
IMG: via Margarita Lopez of NYCHA

NYCHA named Margarita Lopez to a new role this month: Executive Vice President for Community Programs and Development. Ms. Lopez, who previously served as a NYCHA board member and environmental coordinator, will now report to General Manager Cecil House.

Though her title has changed, her role will remain much the same within the authority. She will be in charge of community outreach and development coordination. In a time when funding from Washington has been continually cut, Margarita Lopez’s work on NYCHA land development will be essential to the survival of the housing authority. Currently, Chairman John Rhea has proposed a series of private-public partnerships to lease land and raise money to keep NYCHA on its feet.

Ms. Lopez’s previous work within NYCHA saw her leading sustainability initiatives, helping to create Plan NYCHA, and assisting greatly with recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy in late 2012. Projects like the New York City Planter’s Grove were made possible only through Ms. Lopez’s work.

According to Crain’s, one department source said, “Her experience makes her an ideal leader in these important times for NYCHA and public housing residents.” We suspect that, even without being appointed to this new role, Ms. Lopez would have continued to be a source for good within the NYCHA community, promoting change and improvement—it’s what she does best.

Margarita Lopez has a long history of being active within the community. She has been an activist for a number of causes, including women’s rights, LGBT equality, sustainability, ending domestic violence, and more.

Organizations Profiles Resources

NYCHA Uses Land Leases to Preserve Public Housing

The New York City Housing Authority, NYCHA, is the largest public housing authority in the country. NYCHA provides housing for over 600,000 residents in the city of 8 million, and every day more add their names to the waiting list. Housing prices in New York have skyrocketed, making it one of the most expensive places in the country to live. But despite a growing public need, the federal government has underfunded NYCHA for the past decade, amounting to a loss of $750 million for operations and $875 million for upkeep.

“Our buildings are 79 years old. They need care,” said Margarita Lopez, NYCHA Environmental Coordinator. “We need to figure out how to find the money to fix them. If we don’t fix them we will lose them.”

Though the current financial situation is still bleak, NYCHA has found a promising new way to raise extra revenue for maintaining and improving its buildings—most of which are more than 40 years old. The housing authority is proposing a plan that would lease 14 separate pieces of land owned by NYCHA to private developers.

These developers would then finance, construct and operate new residential buildings—with at least 20% of the apartments being designated as affordable public housing. That’s somewhere around 800 permanently low-income housing units, to which NYCHA residents would receive preference.

NYCHA estimates that through these leasing contracts, which would be 99-year ground leases, they could raise between $30 million and $50 million each year. Additionally, construction and permanent job opportunities would be generated with the developments, potentially helping to improve the lives of many NYCHA residents.

This seems like a great opportunity for New Yorkers, NYCHA, and NYCHA residents—especially considering the government doesn’t seem to be getting out of its financial rut anytime soon. The housing authority has vowed that no families would be displaced nor buildings destroyed, land would be leased and not sold (no privatization), job opportunities would open up, rent would not increase because of the new developments, NYCHA residents would have access to new security enhancements and features, and that money would go straight back into maintaining and preserving current developments.

“We are not going to lose in this equation in any way, shape or form,” said NYCHA’s Margarita Lopez.

“Not a single unit of public housing is going to disappear.”

Click here to read our full profile on Margarita Lopez, NYCHA’s Environmental Coordinator.




desigNYCNew York City has an incredible community of nonprofit organizations working to do good throughout the city. And though these organizations can create change and improve the community on their own, partnering with other organizations and professionals makes their successes greater, their dreams bigger. desigNYC is a group that works to do that, “a platform that connects civic-minded designers with extraordinary non-profits serving the public good.”

desigNYC was created in 2009 when a group of professional designers came together with the common goal of creating social change within the city. They asked themselves how they could use their skills and resources to provide solutions to local issues. Their ultimate plan was to use a “collaborative design process” to “build community and increase social capital.”

To achieve this goal, they created desigNYC. In 2010 they went from being a purely volunteer collective to being a “sustainable enterprise.” These days, desigNYC is more successful than ever, partnering with nonprofit organizations and other institutions, providing pro bono designs to improve the city, and strengthening the NYC community.

One of desigNYC’s farthest reaching projects partnered them with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which houses over half a million people within the city’s five boroughs. On the desigNYC “About” page, a video explains the logic behind the project. The video features NYCHA board member Margarita Lopez, who worked closely with designers from the Rooster Design Group to create a sustainable living guide for NYCHA residents, “The Power is in Your Hands.”

NYCHA had previously created a sustainability guide, but had come to realize that it needed a newer, simpler design. desigNYC partnered NYCHA with The Rooster Design Group, and from there the two were able to create a powerful, appealing, and informative guide to distribute to NYCHA residents all over the city.

Through a multitude of projects like this, desigNYC is pushing the social change movement slowly but surely forward. After just three years, they are already a well known and successful nonprofit in the nation’s largest city. Imagine what a few more years will bring.


NYCHA’s Margarita Lopez is an Activist for Many Worthy Causes

margarita lopez nycha
NYCHA’s Margarita Lopez speaks to the residents of NYCHA developments.
IMG: via

Margarita Lopez, NYCHA Board member, has a plethora of causes for which she is continuously advocating. Among them are LGBT rights (she is, after all, a member of the community), environmental preservation, protection of rights for marginalized groups like the mentally ill, and against domestic violence. Besides helping found a credit union to help the impoverished, establishing programs to deliver food to the homeless, and creating programs at NYCHA to foster eco-friendly lifestyles and business practices, Margarita has contributed New York City’s culture and society in a multitude of ways.

To read more about Margarita Lopez, NYCHA Board Member, click here!