san francisco sros

Photo: Kat VitulanoPhotos/Flickr

San Francisco’s Land Use Committee recently passed a law that, if enforced, will outlaw short-term rentals at SRO buildings. SROs, which allow tenants to rent a single room and share a bathroom and/or kitchen with other tenants, are a staple in Chinatown for families with nowhere else to go. 

The law, pushed ahead by Board of Supervisors member Aaron Peskin, is designed to extend the minimum rental period to 32 days, eliminating renting on a weekly or daily basis. The intention is to reduce demand from tourists and make it so that SRO housing can go to locals in need.

“We believe this will return hundreds if not thousands of vacant units that have been awaiting conversion to the SRO housing market,” Peskin told CBS SF Bay Area. “The amount of precious affordable housing units we have lost over the last several decades is almost twice our current homeless population.”

The relatively cheap rooms can go for as little as $500 to $600 a month. They are typically a bottom-of-the-barrel housing option due to health code violations, noise and substandard care from landlords, but give many San Francisco residents the ability to continue living in the city. It is estimated that 30,000 of the 45,000 SRO tenants in San Francisco would have to leave the area if SROs stopped operating.

Unsurprisingly, many current SRO tenants showed up to support the signing of the law. A representative from the Central City SRO Collaborative told lawmakers, “I was born here and I would just as soon die here.”

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