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A Room for the Night at a Mission District SRO

By Erik Neumann and Carly Nairn, Mission Local

“It looks like peace, but it’s more dangerous at night,” says Ahmed Mohammed. Ahmed works the night shift at the front desk of El Capitan Hotel and Hostel, a $45-a-night Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) hotel in the Mission District.

“The only stories that happen here are about murders, girls and drugs,” he says from behind a glass enclosure like a bank teller’s that runs from his desk up to the ceiling.

An SRO can be a permanent residence, or a room for the night. It’s a refuge, a haven, and at times, a prison. It can be a place to perpetuate bad habits, or a safe house to extinguish them. It isn’t luxurious, nor is it crude. At its most simple, it’s a shelter from the storm. We checked in to report on the living experience that is daily reality of San Franciscans who are poor, vulnerable and on the edge of homelessness.

There are over 500 SRO residential hotels in San Francisco that are home to more than 30,000 low-income residents, according to the Central City SRO Collaborative, a local housing advocacy group. SROs make up 5 percent of all San Francisco residences, and they comprise the largest supply of low-cost rental housing in the city. An SRO is defined as a single, 8-by-10-foot room with shared hallway bathrooms. From there, the hotels range dramatically in quality.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.