Longtime Tenant Leader Mercedes Ruiz Remembered as a Tireless Community Advocate

Mercedez Ruiz

Over the weekend and on Monday, friends and loved ones will be remembering Mercedes Ruiz, a beloved tenant leader on the Lower East Side.

Ruiz, 96, was resident association president at 175 Eldridge St., a senior building operated by the New York City Housing Authority. She died this past week. There will be a viewing at R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home, 22 1st Avenue Saturday and Sunday from 4-8 p.m. Mass will take place Monday at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 273 Mott St., (9:30 a.m.)

Ruiz’s daughter, Patricia Olan, works for City Council member Margaret Chin as a scheduler and community liaison. In a statement, Chin said, “Mercedes spent much of her life helping tenants, and will be dearly missed by the countless people whose lives she changed for the better… Mercedes lived her 96 years of life to the fullest, and her decades of leadership will leave a lasting mark for generations to come.”

In her years as resident association president, Ruiz started a daily senior breakfast program, initiated grocery food donations and launched a weekly exercise program. Ruiz also organized many excursions to parks and cultural venues. She was referred to by family, friends, and neighbors alike—as “grandma.”