San Antonio Business Journal
Alumna Meghan Garza-Oswald MPA ’10 is the 2019 San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 under 40 Woman of the Year. Garza-Oswald is CEO of Community Housing Resource Partners, a national nonprofit that empowers families to grow and thrive economically. Because of her extensive work to help individuals rise from poverty by assisting them with affordable housing, she has been named Woman of the Year.
In affordable housing, Garza-Oswald has made significant impacts in each organization she has been a part of. At CHR Partners, the San Antonio native has increased the organization’s affordable housing portfolio by more than 48 percent and documented services to more than 13,000 people in Texas. Locally, CHR Partners has teamed with prolific multifamily developer The NRP Group to co-develop several affordable projects, including the under-construction Lord Road Apartments on the East Side. Along with co-developing new affordable housing, CHR Partners provides services to other communities in Texas, Ohio, Indiana and soon in North Carolina. These community services include tutoring and homework help, after-school snack and summer lunch programs, adult education programs, English as a second language assistance, financial literacy and job readiness preparation.
At her previous position at Haven for Hope, she was involved in creating the Homeless and Housing Services Program in the State of Texas; the first homeless grant program to be funded with general revenue in the amount of $20 million.
In her current work, Garza-Oswald strives for a simple two-step philosophy: No day is like the day before, and help someone every day.
“It’s like you wouldn’t believe. One day I’m with my kids [7-year-old Jackson and 4-year-old Maxwell], and we’re giving out 44,000 pounds of food with [former San Antonio Spur] Tim Duncan. The next day we’re building a house near Hemisfair to bring awareness to affordable housing. The next day I’m at work and on a construction site. It’s really amazing to be in this role,” Garza-Oswald said.
Beyond being the face of CHR Partners, Garza-Oswald gets the most satisfaction from “getting her hands dirty” with the organization’s work. While she has high aspirations for her small company, she hopes that growth comes horizontally, enabling her to continue to be hands on.
While CHR Partners has collaborated on several large multifamily projects in San Antonio and elsewhere, Garza-Oswald wants the company to get into what she calls “microdevelopment,” or projects with 40 to 50 units in a rehabilitated space. Due to their size, she said such projects could be funded using private money instead of having to work through the bureaucracy of a tax credit program.
She thinks Opportunity Zones, which CHR Partners is exploring, could be a great way to do these projects and that San Antonio is the right market for an affordable Opportunity Zones project, even on a microlevel.
“We’re super excited about them,” she said. “There are some inherent challenges, but we want to capitalize on them. It could also be a great opportunity for developers too, those who want not only the monetary and tax incentive benefits, but also that social” return on investment.