Prominent affordable housing attorney Natalie Gubb died Aug. 27 at her home in Piedmont, Calif.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. As a BRCA-2 mutation carrier, she was able to benefit from targeted therapies under development but ultimately succumbed to her cancer after a courageous five-and-a-half-year battle. She was 68.
A native of Southbridge, Mass., Gubb earned a master’s degree in public policy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974. She then worked for the New York State Division for Youth in Albany, N.Y., where she also volunteered teaching economics in youth correctional facilities.
Gubb moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1978 to attend the University of California at Berkeley Law School. In 1993, she and Scott Barshay founded Gubb & Barshay, a law firm specializing in assisting nonprofit organizations develop and finance affordable housing.
Over the years, the firm has worked with a who’s who list of developers across the state.
“Natalie was a force of nature in the affordable housing world. She mentored an army of young developers over her 30-plus-year career, and her powerful legacy will live on through all of them,” says Jane Graf, a longtime friend and president and CEO of Mercy Housing. “Today we mourn the loss of a true ‘Super Woman’ of affordable housing.”
Gubb worked on every real estate and low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) transaction that Mercy Housing has done in California.
Barshay also cites Gubb’s mentorship of young developers as one of her enduring achievements. “There’s a whole generation of project managers trained by Natalie,” he says.
Gubb was instrumental in structuring and closing hundreds of real estate transactions that increased the availability of affordable housing in California and beyond. She was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California in 2010 and is slated to receive an award from Enterprise Community Partners as a superhero in affordable housing on Oct. 13.
Notably, Gubb was on the team that drafted the initial legislation for the state LIHTC in 1986.
Affordable housing was an area that called out to Gubb. “Natalie wanted to make a difference and improve people’s lives,” Barshay says. “She knew that using her intelligence and skills as a lawyer she would be able to do that through housing.”
Gubb is survived by her husband of 39 years, David Arpi; sons Aaron Arpi and Ethan Arpi and their families; sister Barbara Gubb; brother Martin Gubb; along with nephews and countless friends.
Gubb’s family and law practice were her greatest sources of pride, meaning and purpose. She spent her final days with loved ones but also determinedly worked until a few days before her death.
A memorial service will be held Sept. 8 in Oakland, Calif. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donation’s in Gubb’s memory to the UCSF Center for BRCA Research at https://brca.ucsf.edu/help/donate.
For more information, visit www.nataliegubb.com.