The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board unanimously appointed Matthew Brown as acting executive director Tuesday, after former executive director James Kelekian was placed on paid administrative leave, as first reported by Berkeleyside.
According to rent board chair Paola Laverde, Kelekian was placed on leave April 24 after 18 years serving as executive director. Other details pertaining to Kelekian’s leave are confidential, according to rent board member Igor Tregub. Brown will serve as acting executive director until the rent board appoints an executive director or until Brown wishes to leave the position, according to the resolution to appoint Brown.
According to Brown, he has worked with the rent board since 2004. His previous work includes serving as a private attorney and as an executive director at a nonprofit organization focusing on affordable housing and landlord and tenant problems.
“Brown is part of a team of highly dedicated public servants who are making sure that the agency continues to provide the same high quality services that landlords and tenants expect especially during this time of housing insecurity and despite the fact that that the City’s shelter-in-place policy has a majority of staff working remotely,” Laverde said in an email.
Despite the change in leadership, Laverde said in the email that she does not have any concerns that the rent board will have issues meeting the needs of the Berkeley community.
Tregub said in an email he is “laser-focused on advancing the rights of tenants” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín expressed similar sentiments in an email, adding that he is “confident” the rent board will continue to provide services and resources to tenants and landlords during this time.
“We have an extremely talented and dedicated staff, and I am confident we will continue to provide excellent service to the Berkeley community during a truly unsettling time when so many are concerned with housing insecurity,” Brown said in an email. “I am working hard to ensure that we continue to help maintain the diversity of the Berkeley community and to ensure compliance with the legal obligations relating to the rental of housing as required by the Rent Ordinance.”