Single room occupancy

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An abandoned Single Room Hotel (Hugo Hotel) at 6th and Howard in San Francisco, California

Single room occupancy (more commonly SRO, sometimes called a single resident occupancy) is a form of housing in which one or two people are housed in individual rooms (sometimes two rooms, or two rooms with a bathroom or half bathroom) within a multiple-tenant building. The term is primarily used in Canadian and American cities. SRO tenants typically share bathrooms and/or kitchens, while some SRO rooms may include kitchenettes, bathrooms, or half-baths. Although many are former hotels, SROs are primarily rented as permanent residences.
Single room occupancies are often a form of affordable housing for low-income and formerly homeless individuals.[1]


1 History
2 Uses
3 Conditions
4 Incidents

4.1 Class action lawsuits

5 See also
6 References
7 Further reading
8 External links


The refurbished single room Ambassador Hotel at 55 Mason Street in San Francisco.

The term originated in New York City, probably in the 1930s (the Oxford English Dictionary provides an earliest citation of 1941), but the institutions date back at least fifty years before the nickname was applied to them. SROs exist in many American cities, and are most common in larger cities. In many cases, the buildings themselves were formerly hotels in or near a city’s central business district. Many of these buildings were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The United States saw a decrease in single room occupancy housing during the period of 1960s and 1970s urban decay. For example, in Chicago 81% of the SRO housing stock disappeared between 1960 and 1980.[2]
Many SRO buildings face strong development pressure for conversion to more profitable uses. Some cities have regulated the conversion of SROs to other uses in order to prevent landlords from forcibly evicting SRO tenants. San Francisco passed an SRO Hotel Conversion Ordinance in 1980, which restricts the conversion of SRO hotels to tourist use. SROs are prominent in the Tenderloin, Mission District and Chinatown communities.
In San Francisco, the city may take over particularly squalid SROs, and renovate them for the disadvantaged. Landlords w