Housing Is A Human Right has unveiled a new campaign to address the homelessness crisis: “Save Our SROs” or “S.O.S.” Single-room occupancy hotels provide essential affordable housing for low-income residents. Yet L.A. elected officials have silently stood by while SROs are kept empty or are turned into luxury housing. HHR demands that L.A. politicians utilize these buildings for low-income and homeless housing.
For decades, SROs in Los Angeles, especially in Downtown L.A., provided affordable housing for working-class and low-income residents – and kept people from falling into homelessness. In fact, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the parent organization of Housing Is A Human Right, has bought SROs in the L.A. area, renovated them, and quickly turned the buildings into low-income and homeless housing.
It’s been a huge success. Since 2017, AHF has produced more than 1,300 units of low-income and homeless housing. The properties are managed by AHF’s housing provider division, Healthy Housing Foundation. They include the King Edward Hotel, the Madison Hotel, and the Baltimore Hotel, among others.
While AHF searched for more buildings to buy, it found that numerous SROs were largely empty or were bought by developers to build luxury housing. AHF has estimated that tens of thousands of SRO units are unused. It was a shocking discovery as homeless deaths continued to rise – UCLA researchers found that nearly 1,500 unhoused residents died between March 2020 and July 2021 in L.A. County.
A recent advertisement by AHF and HHR in the Los Angeles Times lays out several key points:
- 700 units at the Cecil Hotel, an SRO building, have mostly remained unused while 1,200 homeless die yearly;
- There are tens of thousands of unused SRO units across L.A.;
- SROs are low-hanging fruit that can house people now;
- Saving and utilizing this entry-level housing is critical to helping the homeless;
- Back-room deals with greedy developers keep these units empty.
Housing Is A Human Right is now undertaking the S.O.S. campaign to pressure L.A. politicians into saving and better utilizing SROs. The effort falls in line with HHR’s longtime advocacy of the “3 Ps”: protect tenants through rent control and other tenant protections; preserve existing affordable housing such as SROs and rent-controlled units; and produce new affordable housing through the adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
In the face of failed trickle-down housing policies that enrich the real estate industry and are promoted by YIMBYs, the “3 Ps” urgently help the poor and middle- and working-class residents, who are getting hit the hardest by the housing affordability and homelessness crises. The “3 Ps” put people over profit.