Jay Janis, the nation's top savings and loan regulator in the Carter Administration and most recently the head of the trade group representing California's thrifts, died Monday night in UCLA Medical Center after a long bout with leukemia. He was 59.
A popular figure in the state's savings and loan industry, the Bel-Air resident had served since Jan. 1 as president of the California League of Savings Institutions. The position made Janis an influential voice in the industry, since about one-third of the savings and loan industry's assets nationwide are held by California thrifts.
During his brief tenure as president of the trade group, Janis argued that the state's savings and loans had largely put behind them the financial problems that plagued the industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He also argued that thrifts should be given credit for being more active than other lenders in making home loans in low-income and minority areas, something that became a major issue in Los Angeles in the wake of the April riots.
A Yale graduate, Janis worked as a home builder and a senior U.S. Housing and Urban Development official before being named in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board--now known as the Office of Thrift Supervision. During his 15-month tenure as the nation's top thrift regulator, Janis was active in pushing to broaden the kind of mortgage loans offered by thrifts. He left the post after Carter's defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980.