SAN FRANCISCO, CA, August 14, 2020 – Veritas, San Francisco’s premier operator of rent-controlled housing, today announced several groundbreaking initiatives to help meet the housing needs of San Franciscans impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
“We understand the extreme hardship and stress that San Franciscans are facing, especially given the end of federal unemployment benefits” said Yat-Pang Au, Founder and CEO of Veritas. “Since the beginning of this crisis, when we issued a voluntary moratorium on evictions and rent increases, we have been working hard with our residents and retail tenants to keep them housed and stable.”
Focused on keeping Veritas residents in their homes, the new program consists of four principal tenets:
Keeping Residents and Retailers Housed
Even before the City and County of San Francisco proclaimed an eviction moratorium, Veritas offered their residents a voluntary eviction moratorium based on financial hardship caused by COVID-19. Veritas is now extending that moratorium through the end of 2020, while San Francisco’s moratorium is scheduled to expire on August 31. This eviction moratorium applies to 100 percent of Veritas units, as well as being extended to all their retail tenants.
Rent Increase Freeze
Veritas was the first San Francisco building owner and manager to temporarily pause rent increases at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Veritas is now voluntarily committing to extend that rent increase freeze for all of its units through the end of 2020.
Because Veritas-owned buildings are often more than 100 years old, they can require extensive capital improvement work; much of it required by law, such as fire alarm upgrades and seismic retrofit. These improvements have resulted in buildings that are much safer and more comfortable to live in, but for select buildings that received a rent increase in the form of a passthrough, there is additional stress on the affected residents.
To bring greater peace of mind, Veritas is committing not to file any new pass through petitions during 2020, and also withdrawing all pending petitions currently awaiting decision from the San Francisco Rent Board, forgoing the related passthrough income in perpetuity.
Residential Support Measures
Veritas will be deploying a series of support measures, including continuing rent deferrals, on a case-by-case basis according to the respective situation of our residents most impacted by COVID-19. We will continue to reach out to all our residents who are experiencing hardship to remind them that our Resident Services Team is there to offer assistance.
“These carefully crafted programs reflect our commitment to our residents and the greater San Francisco community,” said Au. “We believe these are the broadest relief efforts by any major building owner and property manager in the nation, and we hope this inspires the industry to join us in offering similar levels of assistance.”
First Honoree Nearly Doubles His Homeless Outreach Thanks to Veritas
Veritas’ innovative community service award, “Live With Character,” has opened nominations for another grant honoring San Francisco volunteerism. Submit nominations here of individuals who step out of their comfort zone to make a difference to benefit the San Francisco Bay Area. Q2 nominations close on June 1 and the winner will receive a $1,500 award to further their goodwill efforts.
What did Peter, the first quarter recipient of our Live With Character award, do with his grant? Peter, a Veritas apartment resident, has been giving blankets to the homeless while he walks to and from work. He reports having handed out over 200 blankets, giving out a handful at a time. This Live With Character funding was used to purchase more blankets and a cart to nearly double his outreach.
“Thank you for this service to the community. Your generous support …is working for good helping those in our community,” he wrote.
“For my blanket giveaway, I ordered a heavy-duty fold-up cart with a liner so I can give out about a dozen in one outing when a safe opportunity arises, such as shadowing a San Francisco-Marin food pantry pop-up.
“Your funds make this possible and I wish to thank-you again for choosing me to be the recipient, it has already done much good for those who are most in need.”
Further demonstrating his sharing nature, Peter also gave a portion of his award to other philanthropic group, Episcopal Community Services, which served 13,000 homeless and low-income people last year. “They tripled my donation for that day [via matching grant] to $1500!” he reports.
Each quarter, the Live With Character campaign will feature a Veritas resident (or an individual nominated by a resident) who is making an impact in the San Francisco Bay Area. The winners will receive $1,500 in funding, to be donated to a cause of their choice or used to directly fund their efforts to make a difference. Their stories will be featured on our website and social channels. At the end of the year, one of the four winners will be selected by a five-person panel to win a $5,000 prize.
Do you know someone who is making a positive impact in the Bay Area?
Submit nominations here for an opportunity to win a $1,500 award to further advance their goodwill efforts in the community.
We recognize the challenges that all San Franciscans are facing during this time, and have worked hard to help our residents since before the shelter in place was implemented. As COVID-19 emerged, we were the first manager to halt evictions, worked closely with the city to provide emergency housing for survivors of domestic violence and have worked hard to care for our residents. We will continue to develop additional programs for our residential and retail tenants, and will unveil more in the weeks to come.
Like many, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant on our business and forced us to furlough significant portions of our staff. The $3.6 million PPP loan enables us to continue to employ 123 front line workers, many of whom would’ve lost their jobs without the loan, in addition to bringing back 26 furloughed workers. These are the maintenance people, building managers and our resident services team who work hard every day to make sure our residents sheltering in place continue to receive the high quality living experience they deserve.
Many assume we are a $3 billion business based on the value of the buildings we manage, however that is far from the truth. In reality, we have many investors who are the owners of the buildings in the Veritas portfolio. To be clear, we are a management company, committed to maintaining our buildings – many of which are more than 100 years old – and making sure our residents have the best living experience possible, especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire family of Veritas brands – Veritas, GreenTree and RentSFNow – owns zero real estate.
We are committed to repaying the PPP loan back in accordance with the Federal rules. We understand that some recipients of the loan are applying to make it a grant, however that is not our intention. This is merely a bridge to keep people employed and help their families, including making sure they have continued access to healthcare. The PPP loan is currently being used for its intended purpose – to save the jobs of our frontline workers – but we will not keep it.
San Francisco is the city we call home. We were born and bred in San Francisco and remain committed to the city, its community and our employees. But we are also a business that needed the loan for its intended purpose, to meet our payroll and employ the people responsible for maintaining the buildings that house more than 8000 San Franciscans. We continue to deliver on our promise to put residents first, always.
It started with an email after midnight, literally a stab in the dark to colleagues in his department. By 11am that morning, Dan Chung, a Vice President at Veritas Investments, had overrun his goal and it didn’t stop there. People were asking about the campaign so he widened the net to other staff.
“Hi Veritas Family, I started an initiative with the goal to purchase 10,000 surgical masks to be donated to local hospitals to help protect doctors and nurses as they treat patients infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19). …Please don’t feel obligated to make a contribution. For those interested in making a contribution, no matter how small, please email….”
As of April 17, Chung’s solo mission raised enough money to acquire 10,000 surgical masks, as well as 1,100 N95 masks for Bay Area medical staff. In the past week, he dropped off over 5,500 masks at Kaiser Permanente and another 5,500 at the San Francisco emergency medical facility created at Moscone Center. And more are coming, Dan said, because the fundraising kept going.
How did it start? Dan and his wife were at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center for an appointment a couple weeks before, unrelated to coronavirus, but he noticed something out of sync.
“I saw a few people without masks and they told me, they’re being saved for surgery and high-risk needs,” he said. “I decided I had to do something.”
It was just an idea, something that tapped Dan’s deep appreciation for the Kaiser Permanente teams who had been so good to his family now and over the years, and for all the medical workers on the front lines of the pandemic. It struck a chord with his colleagues, too, in seeing an opportunity to recognize the crucial role that our medical system and its dedicated professionals play throughout our lives, sometimes quietly and sometimes with great needs like today.
Another key part of achieving Chung’s goals included the extended Veritas network. Chung has relationships inside and outside the company and one of them, a Veritas investor based in Hong Kong, was moved by his fundraising effort and immediately wanted to help with the cause. This Veritas investor personally helped source and ship the N95 masks and located a supplier for the medical-grade masks, all of which were shipped direct from Hong Kong. He also made a 100% matching contribution to extend the fundraising efforts.
The Bay Area medical personnel were extremely appreciative, and told Dan, “Wow, this is amazing!”, “So many masks!”, “The doctors and nurses really need these.” Dozens and dozens of his colleagues had contributed money as well as their time. Most folks generously gave between $10 to $100, he said, and Chung was thrilled that CEO Yat-Pang Au made a 100% matching gift to further add to the campaign. Chung also gave a shout-out to Bernard Borja for joining him at 6am each day for delivering masks to the hospitals.
CEO Au recognized Dan Chung’s community-minded spirit on a companywide Zoom call, saying, “Thanks Dan, we very much appreciate it, and shows what can be started by just one person. And let me encourage everyone else, when you see people in times of need, lend a helping hand, find out ways to connect and support them. We are all in this together.”