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Half of a 250-foot room in the Tenderloin costs $800/month

Bed in shared dorm costs as much as a one-bed apartment in 15 major cities

The brick front of the circa 1900 Sweden House Hotel in the Tenderloin. Courtesy Sweden House Hotel

SROs represent some of the last truly affordable housing stock in San Francisco, which is why the city labors to keep them around and renting to residents. But affordability is always relative.

This week, a tenderloin SRO began advertising a vacancy on Craigslist. It’s a single bed in a 250-foot room shared with three other people. The price is $650/month.

(If the original ad link goes down, a backup can be found here.)

It’s the “lowest price in downtown San Francisco” the ad claims (which is probably true). The building is the Sweden House Hotel at 570 O’Farrell, a handsome 42-unit 1907 affair noted from the curb for its gold trim.

Even by the standards of 2017, the prospect of splitting a small room with three other people for more than it costs to rent a one bedroom apartment in 15 large US cities seems alarming.

Courtesy Craigslist

But a spokesperson for the Sweden Hotel tells Curbed SF that the ad is actually from last year and was renewed by mistake.

The hotel no longer rents single rooms to four people. The new rule is two people to a room only.

The price for that: $800 per person, or $1,500/month if you want the place all to yourself.

“That’s still the lowest price in downtown San Francisco,” she added. “Other SROs are much, much more.”

As lawmakers at City Hall noted when debating a new SRO law in January, SRO living is rarely ideal. But for many residents it’s the only alternative to homelessness, making such room a necessary and even precious commodity despite the sometimes scant trappings.