November 21, 2023
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Coastal housing advocate Lynn Jacobs left a legacy


Lynn Jacobs

Lynn Jacobs

First it was providing housing for farmworkers. Later is was building homes for working families up and down the Central Coast.

Later still, it was serving in former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cabinet and pushing through a landmark deal to create billions of dollars in home financing.

Developing affordable housing remains the No. 1 issue confronting the Central Coast and the late Lynn Jacobs was one of the first to perceive the extent of the problem.

Beginning in Santa Paula in the 1980s, she developed some of the first affordable ownership units for farm workers at Blue Goose Growers.

Residents got a piece of the American dream and 128 homes were sold at around $40,000, with a below-market-rate mortgage of 13.5 percent thrown into the bargain.

Anticipating one of the worst unintended consequences of the 1990s no-growth politics, Jacobs moved on to developing homes for working families.

According to a tribute published by the area Soroptimist chapter, she developed more than 400 homes in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties through her organization, Ventura Affordable Homes. Her work with the Soroptimist chapter also meant passing along some of her expertise to a new generation of women.

Active in the Building Industry Association and a relentless networker, her work caught the attention of Schwarzenegger, who named her director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development in 2006. During her five-year term in his cabinet, she helped build bipartisan support for a $2.9 billion housing bond that was passed and eventually funded 40,000 affordable units in California.

Jacobs, 69, passed away July 4 after a valiant battle with leukemia that was diagnosed shortly after returning with her husband from a cruise that celebrated their wedding anniversary. Her legacy of strong advocacy for housing for all is something that the region will remember for decades into the future.

Museum director makes move

Ventura County’s philanthropic world got a bit of a surprise on July 11 when Pattie Mullins, the highly regarded director of the county’s signature art museum, announced she was moving over to helm Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties.

We’ve been impressed by Mullins’ leadership as she gave a fresh look to the Museum of Ventura County, increasing its connection with a more culturally diverse and younger audience.

At Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties, she will be taking over a truly regional organization that’s well established and that plays to her previous roles at the Girl Scouts and American Cancer Society.

Fortunately, Mullins built a very capable staff who will run the museum flawlessly until the board can sort out a succession plan.