Rosa Lopez

Rosa Lopez was a remarkable visionary, mentor, and leader whose legacy has left an indelible mark on the West Dallas community. With her unwavering dedication, grassroots advocacy, and commitment to affordable housing, she became a catalyst for positive change in the lives of many. Through her leadership, Rosa founded Vecinos Unidos, Inc., a community housing organization that built homes, transformed neighborhoods, and empowered individuals.

By Ronnie Mestas


1992 Rosa took a monumental step by establishing Vecinos Unidos, Inc., a beacon of hope for West Dallas. Through this organization, she embarked on a journey to address one of the most pressing issues faced by the community: affordable housing. Rosa’s determination was not just about building houses but building lives. As the first Latina and LGBT homebuilder in Dallas, she defied conventions and barriers, leaving an inspirational trail for others to follow.


One of Rosa’s significant accomplishments was her advocacy for abandoned properties. She recognized the potential of these disregarded spaces and, notably, the Kay-Mac apartments, an old, closed apartment complex. Through relentless efforts, Rosa secured tax property from the City of Dallas, laying the foundation for change. Under her guidance, Vecinos Unidos, Inc. initiated the Casa Rio subdivision, 60 home development that stands today as a testament to her vision and the power of community sweat equity.


Rosa’s work extended far beyond bricks and mortar. Recognizing the importance of educating residents and future homeowners, she instilled a sense of responsibility for maintaining and preserving their new homes. Her dedication wasn’t limited to construction; she collaborated with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Builders of Hope, and private property owners to forge partnerships to fuel the community’s growth.


Vecinos Unidos’ impact wasn’t confined to housing. Rosa’s leadership birthed grassroots community-led neighborhood associations, fostering a great pride among West Dallas residents. She believed that true empowerment came from unity, and her efforts exemplified this belief as she championed the creation of a “Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay” in the La Bajada Neighborhood. This initiative showcased Rosa’s commitment to preserving the community’s identity and defending it against the tide of gentrification.


Even as Rosa battled cancer, her commitment to West Dallas remained unshakeable. In the summer of 2013, her mentoring was pivotal in forming West Dallas 1, a coalition of Neighborhood Associations. This alliance addressed common challenges and celebrated each association’s unique characteristics, highlighting Rosa’s remarkable skill in fostering collaboration and unity.


Tragically, Rosa Lopez passed away in 2017, leaving a void in the hearts of those she touched. Yet, her legacy endures through Vecinos Unidos, the spirit of community engagement she cultivated, and the ongoing endeavors of West Dallas 1. Her support for Unidos US and LULAC reflects her commitment to broader social issues and civil rights.


Rosa’s journey teaches us that one individual’s passion and determination can bring about transformative change. Vecinos Unido’s slogan, “Preservation, through Education,” underscored the significance of empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to improve their lives. Rosa Lopez’s visionary leadership and unwavering dedication inspires generations as they strive to create a brighter future for their communities.

Rosa Lopez was a visionary, mentor and leader. She was a grassroots advocate who actually changed people’s lives.

Rosa started Vecinos Unidos, a community and grassroots lead affordable housing (CHDOs) center in West Dallas and incorporated Vecinos Unidos in 1992 

Rosa was the first Latina and LGBT homebuilder in Dallas. She advocated and purchased tax property (land bank) from the city of Dallas (AKA-K-Mac) wich was an old, abandoned apartment complex.

Vecinos Unidos leadership with the community sweat hours developed fifty-seven affordable homes which is now the Casa Rio subdivision located in Los Altos de Benito Juarez in West Dallas.

As Rosa educated residents and future homeowners on the responsibilities of maintaining and preserving their new homes she was working with organizations and private landowners such as Habitat, builders of hope, H.M.K. and the “Wheelers” (private property owners).

From Vecinos Unidos came grassroots community lead neighborhood associations and a pride of living in West Dallas.

Rosa’s leadership came into play when she assisted residents of La Bajada Neighborhood put in place a “Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay” to help protect our communities fight gentrification in West Dallas.

During these twenty-five short years, as Rosa continued her grassroots advocacy of organizing West Dallas, she was also battling cancer.

In a meeting in the summer of 2013 at Vecinos Unidos a small group, led by Rosa, of four formed a coalition of Neighborhood Association that would be West Dallas 1.

West Dallas 1 is the only Super Neighborhood group of fourteen Neighborhood Association that support each other’s common issues but also their individual identity.

In the winter of 2017 Rosa Lopez passed from cancer like so many of our own families, friends and.classmates. Rosa still lives through Vecinos Unidos,community engagement and WD1.

Vecinos Unidos is a strong supporter of National Council of La Raza (Unidos US), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and with an eye on the future Vecinos Unidos is reaffirming our commitment to together, Si se puede.

We can break anything that keeps us from succeeding Preservation through Education.


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