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Top CA housing official to leave post amid renter protests

The headquarters of the California Housing Financing Agency.

The head of the California Housing Finance Agency will be leaving his post much to the joy of tenants rights' groups.

Matthew Jacobs, a developer who has chaired the agency since 2013, told KPCC he will not seek reappointment by the governor to its board when his term expires in September. His decision comes amid months of protests by housing activists who are angry that Jacobs is evicting tenants from rent-controlled apartments he owns in Beverly Grove and Fairfax so he can build higher-end condominiums.

Jacobs would not comment on why he was leaving the board. But activists claimed victory. They had barraged the governor’s office and the housing agency with letters and phone calls demanding Jacobs step down. They said it was hypocritical of Jacobs to lead an agency charged with making housing affordable to low and moderate-income households.

"I feel it was the tenants of California who shamed him out of office," said Steve Luftman, one of the renters facing eviction from the Beverly Grove apartments.

Luftman said he and other renters will continue to pressure Jacobs to rescind his eviction plan.

Jacobs, for his part, spoke positively of his time with the agency, which provides financing for affordable housing projects. He was first appointed in 2012.

"I'm very proud of the work the agency has done over the last several years, getting its financial self in order and getting back into the business of lending," Jacobs said.