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Single Room Occupancy
Living in Tight Quarters

A typical SRO (single room occupancy) is around 8 feet by 10 feet. The size of a large area rug. Often these spaces share bathrooms and kitchens and have very small or no windows. These spaces are tend to be in old buildings with old plumbing and electrical. These are the spaces that people living on the streets are often offered as permanent housing. In this video, we imagine what it is to furnish such a space as one’s “forever” home.

About SRO Living

A creative exercise in empathy and policy

Kim Diamond making creative use of her SRO space. On this day, her bed was her kitchen counter as she mixed batter for banana bread. Her home is 8ft x 10ft and has a stove and refrigerator.

     We developed this exercise to help community members who live in conventional housing to imagine what it is to move off the streets into permanent supportive housing. It's often difficult for people who've never lived on the streets to imagine that it an SRO or other low-income housing may not be adequate housing or that someone might choose to live in a tent or on the streets rather than in an SRO. 

In this exercise, we ask that you imagine for yourself what it would be to face life in an 8x10 with a shared bathroom and kitchen. 

     But we also ask you to consider what it would be to live next door to someone with explosive anger or who can't sleep unless they have loud music on or with whom you have an unresolvable conflict. People in permanent supportive housing can't move. They can't give notice and look for another place. 

     Most of us in conventional housing have that choice and we have adequate space. We have a kitchen and bathroom. Those things give us choices in life that residents of SROs must create in small spaces and with no choice to move.

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