It is perfectly to legal to evict tenants from their apartments while using the Ellis Act as justification, but it may appear monumentally hypocritical if you happen to be the chairman of the California Housing Finance Agency, which was designed to “create safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income Californians,” according to its website.
Matthew Jacobs, who holds that position, owns a nine-unit, rent-controlled apartment complex in Beverly Grove and an eight-unit building in the nearby Fairfax district. By the end of this week, 17 tenants will be evicted from the former and by mid-July, the tenants of the Fairfax building will be tossed out. In both cases the apartments will be replaced by condos, according to the Beverly Press.
Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival huffed:
Really, the intent of [the Ellis Act] was to provide an out for small landlords … who wanted to go out of the rental business. The law has been totally corrupted by speculators. But we feel morally, he’s out of step by using [the Ellis Act. These evictions are causing tremendous hardships to many of those tenants living in those buildings, such as seniors and long-time tenants. Lives are being disrupted and…longtime tenants are not finding affordable housing in the neighborhoods.
Citywatchla.com reported Gross stating, “That this man is head of an agency that supposedly is working to provide affordable housing is outrageous…for the last three years we have seen an increase in Ellis evictions and the destruction of affordable housing, and it’s only going to get worse.”
LA.curbed.com reported that the Beverly Grove apartments will feature 11 condos; the Fairfax site will offer eight condos.
After tenants protested in front of his home May 27, Jacobs spoke with KPCC, which reported that he said “his development will add units to the housing market–and he’s not changing his plans.” Melissa Flores, speaking for CalHFA, stated, “As the chairman of the CalHFA Board, Mr. Jacobs has fully supported the mission of the Agency by providing oversight on the implementation of financing and administrative programs to increase affordable rental housing throughout the state so more Californians have a place to call home.” The tenants protested again last Saturday at the site of his latest project in West Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Tenants evicted by Jacobs will receive relocation money: $7,700 if they have resided in his building less than three years, $10,200 for living there longer than that; and if disabled or classified as a senior citizen, between $16,350 to $19,300.
Jacobs, a Democrat, was appointed to his present post in 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The Ellis Act allows landlords to evict tenants if the landlords stop renting their properties or demolish the buildings.