One of eight activists recognized nationwide, Montoya will fly to Washington in December and receive Neighborworks America's Dorothy Richardson award, named for a woman who saved her Central Northside Pittsburgh neighborhood from demolition in the 1960s.
"We are very proud of Elkin Montoya and his commitment to the city and the people of Lowell," said JDCU President/CEO Mark S. Cochran. "Elkin exudes the credit union's social purpose of people helping people. We commend his efforts and recent recognition of this prestigious honor."
Montoya, who came to America in 1974 with his Colombian family, lived in the North Canal Apartments of the Acre section of Lowell. Living there for two winters without heat, he was recruited to help improve the living conditions in his 265-unit apartment complex.
Montoya helped lead a group of residents in successfully suing the apartment owners and the Department of Housing and Urban Development and created a nonprofit Coalition for a Better Acre and the North Canal Tenant Council. The two groups took joint ownership of the complex and secured $19 million to renovate the structures.