In the Tenderloin, it really is like Biggie says it is, “everyday like a hustle, another drug to juggle- Another day, another struggle”.
When I moved to San Francisco two years ago and searched for a place to live I split a $1200 rent with my boyfriend. I never considered that the amount of rent I was paying could actually be less than what most of the homeless in San Francisco pay over the course of the month, paying per night and moving from unit to unit as finances and circumstance permits most of the people that I talked to that live in SRO’s pay between $900 and $1200 a month, and that is for a single person – remember NO splitting “technically” allowed.
The horrifying reality about this juxtaposition is that while I pay far less in rent, my apartment was never infested (that I know- or have been affected by) with cockroaches, bed bugs, mice and other disease. To say that many of these units are “substandard” is an understatement. The walls are covered in dirt and handprints, beer and liquor bottles line the hallways and elevators reek of urine. Combined with the overall smell of mold that has permeated the walls of the building, the stench in some of the places is almost unbearable. With shared bathrooms, I was told by a desk clerk that it is not uncommon to find needles and other paraphernalia littered about.
Investigating the issue of SRO’s turned into a long and winding road. I knew that the problem was immense and multifaceted, but I suspected that a solution would appear more concrete. Since the 80’s solutions to homelessness and SRO’s have been focused on by several organizations that still exists today. They have brought down several large corporate landlords that maintained substandard living conditions in many of their buildings.
I am literally overwhelmed by the amount of information that is available on SRO’s and how deep the problem runs. Below are some links with more information on SRO’s if you care to check it out. Be warned, some of the images and videos are kind of disturbing.
This is a collection of videos from the Tenderloin Housing Clinic: (Highly Graphic – NSFW)
These images are really interesting, they were taken by a man who worked for the Open Hands project for over 5 years. He took pictures of the doorways of the SRO units to show how people try to ward off other tenants and visitors.
Here is a blog written by a man who is currently homeless, and writes about issues that affect the homeless community in the Tenderloin especially. He updates almost every other day and is very opinionated. It’s a great read.