Veritas is a founding partner in TRiO Plus’s housing marketplace.
BY PAUL BERGERON
City of Oakland
To read the article, click here.
Veritas’ housing partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities, now in its third year, is leveraging a more beneficial impact for families of hospitalized children according to KGO-TV7 news. A family housed in one of its San Francisco apartments for several months was featured in this news segment as they talked about a new property RMHC recently purchased in Oakland to help other, future families in need.
When Veritas first donated short-term housing to RMHC in San Francisco in 2019, it was to accommodate the growing number of families who needed long-term stays in the Bay Area. This alternative housing partnership was expanded as an emergency response to the need to comply with COVID restrictions that dramatically reduced their ability to house families whose kids were undergoing medical treatment at local hospitals.
Housing partnerships with nonprofits are transformational for people dealing with medical emergencies, catastrophe, domestic violence, and other dire straits, and demonstrates the transformational role of housing in people’s lives.
Veritas is proud to have worked with RMHC and other non-profits organizations over the years to provide short-term housing. This temporary housing can be a life-changing bridge during tough times, from wildfire victims to survivors of domestic violence, and most recently refugees fleeing war in Afghanistan and Ukraine. And we thank partner groups in the multifamily industry who help make it happen, like the San Francisco Apartment Association and Apartment List’s Home Bridge program.
It makes great business sense to go beyond “checking a box” with ESG best practices
BY PAUL BERGERON
Globest Real Estate Forum
Environment Social & Governance (ESG) leads with the environment, and from that, much of it focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, something that commercial real estate is striving to do as reports show buildings emit 40 percent of carbon, according to the US Green Building Council.
Apartment operator Veritas, based in San Francisco, has been ahead of the curve in planning and executing strategies that not only cut emissions but attract residents and investors.
The company has grown its portfolio of apartments and mixed-use multi-family considerably in recent years.
Jeff Jerden, COO, Veritas tells GlobeSt.com that it’s taken a while for commercial real estate companies such as apartment owners to focus greatly on ESG for their operations. He said a report from 2021 on ‘Why ESG?’ points to institutional investors initiating the trend, which is trickling down to the real estate operators with whom they invest.
An excerpt from that report read, “The era of companies being able to sweep bad behavior under the rug is soon to be over. For too long, companies have been allowed to look profitable when the cost of using public assets – such as clean air and water — has not been properly accounted for in determining profits.”
At First, Tracking Seems ‘Cumbersome’
For investors focused on ESG, improving environmental sustainability generally comes with an attractive return on investment. Many institutions are going beyond “checking a box” with ESG and want partners who embrace these issues and have long-term abilities to perform to these shared goals.
“When you first start tracking progress toward ESG principles it will probably seem cumbersome, even elusive,” Jerden said. “Not everyone will agree on what should be measured or how. But part of the progress is having those conversations and agreeing to start somewhere.”
Jerden said Veritas didn’t wait for widely-accepted or mandated standards. “We’ve jumped ahead in the past couple of years by heeding signposts on metrics that were becoming widely accepted, but investors and operators still on the fence shouldn’t wait for one to become the ‘gold standard,’ he said. “They can and should instead be moving in the direction of implementing a measurement and reporting methodology – now.
Escaping the ‘Wild, Wild, West’ of Reporting
Jerden said the biggest challenge that real estate firms have faced to get through initial due diligence on greenhouse gas/climate reporting compliance such as the Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor (CRREM) and GRESB is that ESG was in the “wild, wild west” of metrics and reporting.
“That ‘wild west’ mindset has made it difficult for real estate operators to anticipate what institutions want, but the conversation is rapidly fixing on CRREM, GRESB and the US SEC’s reporting requirements for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
- Scope 1 emissions are those that come directly from an organization’s owned or controlled source.
- Scope 2 emissions, also known as indirect emissions, are emissions from purchased electricity, heat, steam, or cooling consumed by the company, but generated elsewhere.
- Scope 3 emissions refer to carbon impacts across a company’s value chain, outside of its direct control.
“Operators who more deeply understand and begin to echo ESG strategies will be in the best position to align with institutions,” Jerden said.
“Industry consultants and investors themselves tell us that, soon enough, operators won’t even get to the initial due diligence stage of institutions pre-qualifying a partner, unless the operator can show a strong track record, a deep understanding of ESG issues, and robust reporting capabilities to back up the performance. All of the above is dependent upon data-driven, well-designed information systems.”
Achieving ‘Early-Mover’ Status
Jerden said that Veritas has had the benefit of an early-mover status thanks to ESG having been an important component of our LP’s investment criteria since the beginning of our partnerships.
“For us, the upfront investment of time in overcoming compliance issues has meant that our focus now is instead on working with existing investors first to understand what’s important to them and why. From there, we can align their goals into our own environmental programs.”
Veritas’ portfolio primarily is made up of smaller-scale assets with 20-50 units per building – a segment that is known for being difficult to operate at scale.
But thanks to the Veritas:DRIVE backbone, he said the company is able to instill in its portfolio a level of efficiency more commonly seen at properties with 300 units or more.
“This allows us to deliver better, cheaper and faster service to our residents, and to our investors,” Jerden said.
“For example, we instituted centralized leasing operations (CLO) and centralized maintenance operations (CMO) that are unusual if not unique for a firm of our size. We use artificial intelligence to efficiently route technicians in the field and have implemented thoughtful automation to streamline complex internal workflows, making scale possible for buildings that often average fewer than two dozen units each.
To read the full report, click here.
How technology can serve as an amenity
BY KALI PERSALL
Institutional Real Estate Inc.
As larger garden-style and mid-rise operators search for the next “it” amenity in new construction, small-scale apartment assets of less than 50 units, which comprise the majority of apartment properties in the United States, are often limited by space or resources constraints.
For all the attention given to resident preferences, there is relatively little addressing how technology can be leveraged as a resident-facing amenity and a tool to achieve scale, among other benefits. A recent paper by Veritas Investments, an owner/operator of smaller, classically styled buildings in irreplaceable locations across the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, explains how smaller assets can compete by utilizing proptech, which places innovation at the center of the resident experience and enables operational scale.
To read the full report, click here.
Veritas Investments, one of the largest operators of multifamily, urban retail and mixed-use properties in California, is pleased to announce that Stephanie Versin has joined the privately-held firm as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Leasing. This new position within the firm reflects the ongoing growth of one of the West Coast’s premier apartment managers. Stephanie’s deep experience in real estate, hospitality and business marketing will help Veritas in unifying the sales and marketing functions and support a more seamless customer-centric experience while leveraging the firm’s tech-forward infrastructure.
“We are thrilled to have Stephanie join us at Veritas,” said Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Jerden. “With her impressive track record, Stephanie brings to the table a unique combination of skills and experience that will be critical to the organization’s growth and success.”
Stephanie’s career began in hospitality in London, shortly after completing her Master’s of Business Administration in her native France, at NEOMA Business School. Her time at French hotelier Accor eventually led her to Chicago, where she oversaw all aspects of marketing and communication for the opening of Accor’s premier flag, the Sofitel, in Chicago. Stephanie later headed up marketing for all of Accor’s Sofitel- and Novotel-branded hotels throughout North America. Her career then took her on to other impressive leadership roles at both Hyatt and later Kimpton Hotels, which had its headquarters in San Francisco prior to acquisition.
Stephanie then departed hospitality for the multifamily industry, where she held the position of Vice President at San Mateo-based Prometheus Real Estate Group. There, Stephanie oversaw the marketing and branding of a 15,000-unit portfolio, and she employed her passion for marketing and her aptitude for strategic thought to execute a successful refresh of the Prometheus brand. More recently, Stephanie’s career brought her back into hospitality, where she headed up marketing as Senior Vice President for boutique hotel operator Sightline Hospitality.
Veritas Investments, one of San Francisco’s leading managers of apartment homes, issued the following statement about the end of misguided efforts by a local tenant group to stop residents from applying for rent relief:
“We at Veritas are heartened to see the end of the campaign orchestrated by the Housing Rights Committee and its proxy tenants organization to keep those in need from applying for rent relief. We have been working diligently to collaborate individually with our residents to help those who have been adversely affected by the pandemic economically to remain safely housed. A few holdouts, misled by the Housing Rights Committee, had rebuffed our multiple attempts at outreach. The voluntary end to their debt strike will finally allow us to work with all our residents to receive the rent relief to which they are entitled under the state law.” said Jeff Jerden, COO of Veritas Investments.
“We hope this marks the end of the Housing Rights Committee’s efforts to undermine the housing stability of renters in this city in pursuit of its policy goals,” Jerden continued. “The misleading information coming out of the HRC served only to further confuse renters trying to navigate the complex rent relief process offered by the state at a time when their focus should have been to help those most in need.”
Veritas has implemented industry-leading pandemic rent relief efforts and has made every effort to help residents understand and apply for the relief available to them. Veritas’ most recent resident-first policy was a Dec. 14 announcement of a “Backstop Plan” that affords Veritas residents an unprecedented safety-net should they qualify for and apply for relief.
It is important to state that these initiatives are the product of Veritas’ continued efforts to meet the needs of its residents as a result of the pandemic. HRC and its proxy organizations have consistently tried to falsely claim credit for our programs and quite frankly, we know why — because no other property manager in the state has enacted such wide-reaching resident initiatives.
Key aspects of the Dec. 14 “Backstop Plan”:
- Veritas will forgive the uncovered portion of a resident’s back-rent who has applied to and qualifies for State relief funds but may later find that such funds become depleted, up to the maximum 18-month benefit.
- For residents who have a pending or approved application for State rental assistance, the company will continue to hold off on imposing annual rent increases.
As demonstrated repeatedly throughout this unprecedented pandemic, Veritas remains committed to finding a resolution individually with each resident to keep them safely housed.