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Chairman of California Affordable Housing Board is Mass Evicting His Own Apartment Buildings

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By the end of the week, 17 tenants of a nine-unit, rent-controlled apartment complex in Beverly Grove will have been evicted from their apartments, and by mid-July, the tenants of an eight-unit building nearby, in Fairfax, will also have been pushed out. Both buildings are being cleared to make way for market-rate condos, says the Beverly Press. The apartment buildings are owned by the same guy, Matthew Jacobs, who, in a deeply unexpected twist, turns out to be the chairman of the California Housing Finance Agency, "a state agency that helps provide affordable housing."

Jacobs has invoked the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict rent-controlled tenants provided that they're leaving the rental business for at least five years (e.g., converting their building to condos). These kinds of evictions have already swept San Francisco and, in Los Angeles, they've more than doubled between 2013 and 2014. Legally, Jacobs is totally ok here; he's definitely allowed to tear down his property and build condos. But, says Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival, "we feel morally, he's out of step by using [the Ellis Act]," especially for a person who's probably very, very aware of the intense housing crunch in Los Angeles.

Jacobs told KPCC last week that "his development will add units to the housing market—and he's not changing his plans." The Beverly Grove site will become 11 condos with parking garages in a four-story building. The site in Fairfax will be home to eight condos.

A spokesperson for CalHFA says the board isn't involved in whatever Jacobs does in his own outside business, adding that "... As the chairman of the board, Jacobs has fully supported the mission of the agency by providing oversight to increase access to affordable housing for Californians."

Jacobs is required to give his tenants relocation money—tenants who have been renting in either of the buildings for less than three years will get $7,700; those there for longer will get $10,200, and anyone who is disabled or a senior will get between $16,350 to $19,300 depending on their tenure as a tenant and their income. And while that seems like a lot of money, as rents continue to rise, it will probably not stretch too far.
· Beverly Grove apartment tenants evicted [BP]
· Tenants protest evictions in front of state housing chair's home [SCPR]
· Mass Rent-Control Evictions Doubled in Los Angeles Last Year [Curbed LA]
!83; Mapping Where Rents Are Shooting Up the Most in LA Right Now [Curbed LA]