Life inside San Francisco's vanishing Single Room Occupancies (SROs)
July 18, 2014 9:13 AM Subscribe
There are approximately 530 single resident (or room) occupancy (SRO)
hotels in San Francisco. San Francisco has hundreds of SRO hotels that are home to more than 30,000 tenants or approximately 5% of the city
, the majority of whom live in low-income neighborhoods such as the Tenderloin and Chinatown. As San Francisco’s cost of living continues to leap upwards and SROs get demolished or converted to condos, many housing activists worry about what will become of the vulnerable SRO population
. Life has always been precarious for these residents and far from idyllic in even the best-managed buildings. Here are the stories of six people trying to survive in a city that’s increasingly out of reach.
SROs have been part of San Francisco since July 1977, when the dilapidated, historic Cadillac Hotel was purchased by Leroy Looper to house people getting out of prison
. What Looper created at the Cadillac has since become known as “supportive housing.” When Mayor Newsom speaks of “Housing First,” and the idea of providing on-site services is described as a national model, keep in mind that for the West Coast, it all began at the Cadillac Hotel.
A 2009 report from the Human Services Agency
(PDF) listed average monthly rent at $500 to $600, but it’s not uncommon for tenants to pay as much as $1,000 for an 8x10 room with no bathroom or kitchen. Still, this is a lot better than the median rate of $3,200
(as of April 2014; source