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East Bay Express

Wednesday July 15, 2015

Chair of California Housing Finance Agency Steps Down Amid Controversy Over Ellis Act Evictions

By Darwin BondGraham

The chair of California's Housing Finance Agency Matthew Jacobs will not seek reappointment when his term expires at the end of September. Tenant activists are applauding Jacobs' announcement after waging a two-month long campaign to oust him from the board. "This is a tremendous victory for tenants," said Coalition for Economic Survival Executive Director Larry Gross in a press release issued by Tenants Together earlier today. "There is no doubt that the overwhelming outcry from tenants and affordable housing advocate across the state put Jacobs in situation that left him no choice but to step down."

Concerning his decision, Jacobs wrote the Express in an email: "My term on the board of CalHFA ends in September, and I am not seeking reappointment. I am proud of the great progress the agency has made during the past three years."

Several months ago, tenants in a rent-controlled Los Angeles apartment complex owned by Jacobs learned that they were being evicted so that Jacobs' company, Bulldog Partners, LLC could raze the buildings and erect million-dollar condos. Jacobs is using the Ellis Act, a law that allows landlords to evict tenants if the landlords plan to go out of business by selling the apartments as condos, or building condos or houses on the site. Housing activists have dogged Jacobs over the past several months, protesting at open houses held by his company, and calling on him to rescind the eviction plan, which is still moving forward.

The Ellis Act has been used extensively by San Francisco landlords to evict tenants to create market-rate and luxury housing across the city.

Jacobs was appointed to the California Housing Finance Agency by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012.

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