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June 15, 2024
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Revitalizing San Francisco Housing Stock Back to Habitability


Veritas Investments has finished construction on rehab-revitalizations of 634 Powell, 845 Pine and 1146 Taylor in San Francisco, bringing back nearly 40 apartments that were uninhabitable due to prior owners’ neglect, equivalent to a typically-sized San Francisco apartment building. These exemplify the 11-year-old firm’s strategy of acquiring older, classic properties ranging from some needing minor “TLC” to those requiring major life-safety, seismic upgrades or equally urgent infrastructure repairs of structural and interior systems. It’s all aimed at preserving and enhancing an aging stock of much-needed rent-controlled housing in one of the U.S’ highest-demand markets. Key to these efforts is Veritas’ focus on working with existing residents so that improvements are made with minimal disruption, allowing San Franciscans to continue living in safer, more secure homes.

In this Q&A, CEO Yat-Pang Au expands on the firm’s resident focus and strategy for preserving San Francisco’s rent-controlled housing stock amid a housing crunch.

Q. What got you into investing in San Francisco apartments?

Au: When I first moved to San Francisco in 2007, I took a particular interest in the neighborhoods and buildings that brought everyone together, which prompted me to launch the company with the purchase of a six-unit apartment building in the Mission District. We now have over 200 properties in the Bay Area. These buildings range from four units to more than 100, and we’ve restored many that are over a century old.

Q. Why do you say ‘people’ are the key to revitalizing classic buildings?

Au: The buildings may have physical repair challenges but our number-one concern is residents -- our customers. That’s why we established ’R-1‘, our ’Residents-First’ initiative, with the highest standards of customer service and a commitment to building trust, respect, and transparency. Veritas residents benefit from deep affordability, with an average rent that is close to 40 percent below market and have among the longest average tenures in the multifamily rental market at around 10 years. Our focus on resolving resident challenges early-on has resulted in one of the lowest eviction rates in San Francisco, well below the city’s average. And we keep innovating. Our recently launched hardship program immediately waives charges resulting from capital improvements for Veritas residents who have a particular hardship or situation that makes such increases difficult or impossible to absorb.

Q. Tell us more about the physical improvements and bringing housing back to usable life.

Au: The vast majority of San Francisco’s housing is comprised of older, classic structures and, unfortunately, many properties fall into conditions over the years that make some units uninhabitable. When we invest in one of these buildings, we focus on improvements that keep them safe and up to code, including seismic retrofitting and the installation of updated fire safety systems or other needs. We continue to partner with the city and our community to advance innovative programs that work to better house San Franciscans. We’ve also gone beyond the basics in establishing a first-of-a-kind ombudsperson program for our residents. Our ombudsperson is an expert from the community whose sole focus it is to identify, raise and resolve resident issues, including dozens of successes to date.

Q. What are some details of the three property revitalizations?

634 Powell, after renovation
634 Powell, after renovation
Au: The transformations on Powell, Pine and Taylor streets in central San Francisco highlight the benefit both to long-term residents whose presence in the city helps it retain its character, and to newcomers eager to start their own San Francisco story in our historic buildings. At 634 Powell Street in Lower Nob Hill, we made a series of seismic retrofits along with substantial interior and exterior improvements. It’s now a beautiful, desirable, and safe place to live. Sub-standard plumbing and water systems, dangerous boiler equipment, and other unsafe conditions had previously placed the building on a pathway to obsolescence. At 845 Pine, eight apartments were unable to house residents when Veritas acquired the building, due to decades’ worth of deferred maintenance, but after rehabilitation, each of the eight are now occupied. At 1146 Taylor, Veritas acquired the building in a state of significant disrepair and has since made 14 apartments habitable again after having been left vacant by prior owners.

We’re proud to provide high-quality, rent-controlled homes for residents in this great city. Our thanks go out to the thousands of Veritas residents who have expressed their appreciation for the care we provide every day, and equal gratitude is due to our team members who keep ’Residents First’ every day, too.

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