Cedric Dugger enters his home
Cedric Dugger enters his home on 601 O'Farrell St. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken July 11, 2022.

Just shy of his 70th birthday, Cedric Dugger is wondering if he will be homeless again. The 6-foot, 4-inch tall man stood outside his apartment building at 601 O’Farrell St. Monday, and, his hands trembling, told reporters how he fell behind on rent during the pandemic and will head to eviction court Tuesday. 

“I don’t know what to say,” said Dugger, his voice breaking. “Where is the humanity?”

How, he said, “is it going to benefit them to put another person on the street?” 

As the last of statewide Covid-19 eviction protections expire, Dugger appears to be one of a small group of tenants who are being taken to eviction court over pandemic debt, organizers said. Although landlords are giving tenants eviction warnings, organizers said few cases do make it to the more serious stage of court. 

Despite concerns of massive eviction cliffs, it appears that rent relief, anti-eviction groups, and the landlords’ decision not to go to court have  so far kept San Franciscans in their homes. 

But for the few who are facing eviction proceedings, like Dugger, the fear of ending up on the streets is real. 

Dugger recalled when he used to sleep on cardboard at Fisherman’s Wharf years ago and cajole folks into giving him money with a funny sign. But it would be harsher now.

 “I would be on the streets again at 70 years old,” he told Mission Local. “I can’t even imagine. You see what the people on the street are like.” At Monday’s conference, the Dugger launched  into a series of impassioned, but rambling speeches, which organizers gently interrupted.  

Dugger explained that he has depression and other ailments. 

He has lived at 601 O’Farrell for 13 years, and says the building’s odd interior of rough textured walls evokes a Flintstones cartoon. Walking through it makes him smile.

A series of misfortunes caused him to accrue debt, including a $200 cut to his disability checks, costly treatments for physical and mental health issues, and depleted savings. He now owes $8,000.15 to Veritas Properties, his landlord.  

Veritas called the court proceeding Tuesday a “settlement conference and not an eviction,” and Monday’s press conference “unnecessary,” according to a statement from Veritas COO Jeff Jerden. The company reached out to Dugger about the debt “as recently as May 25, with no response.”

Jerden said Veritas is “happy to work with Mr. Dugger and resolve this,” and has responded to Supervisor Dean Preston’s pleas to address the issue. Dugger noted that Veritas management proposed a $500 discount for his base rent of $2,100.

“We will work with residents who have a COVID-related issue, or other extraordinary situations,” Jerden continued. “Our goal is to keep residents in their homes.” 

Dugger did not register for state or local rent relief, in part because he is not technologically savvy, he said. Indeed, the rent relief program proved difficult to navigate for thousands of Californians, and the state housing department received a discrimination complaint for its inaccessibility. Thousands of others had applications denied

“Some folks fall through the cracks,” Preston said at Monday’s conference. “We call on landlords not to throw them out.” 

Juan Martinez, who did apply for rent relief, alleges that Veritas is moving forward with an eviction case against him anyway. Veritas did not comment on Martinez’s case. 

Still, it appears, so far, that few San Franciscans will be evicted for lack of Covid-19 payment. For those still struggling to pay off recent debts, city officials urge residents to apply to the local program. Sharon Herrera, the manager of the Housing Committee of the Mission-based nonprofit the Latino Task Force, and other housing advocates encourage residents to “defend themselves” in court if need be. 

Dugger goes to court Tuesday. He hopes that Veritas will completely forgive the rent he owes, given that it is a large corporation, and that the company lowers his base rent further so he can stay in his Flinstones-style home. “The money, I simply do not have it. These are facts.”

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. The rent relief program set aside tens of millions of dollars on administrative expenses to help tenants apply. What the hell happened to that money?

  2. It would be a tragedy for this elderly gentleman to have to live on the streets. But it is also unreasonable to expect his landlord to provide free rent.

    Could the city not use its housing funds to pay off the rent arrears? Surely that will be cheaper long term than the cost of supporting an elderly homeless person?