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From the Mayor's Desk

Streamlining Affordable SRO Housing in San Diego


Housing ends homelessness, which is why I’m working hard to clear barriers and incentivize the creation of new homes for San Diegans of all income levels. 

My PDF icon Housing Action Package 2.0 is a series of policy amendments and reforms that work to protect existing affordable homes and encourage the construction of more. 

One of those proposed policy amendments incentivizes the construction of new Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) homes. SROs are a critical source of housing that's often naturally affordable to extremely low-income people and those at risk of homelessness. This housing type often provides homes for those most vulnerable to becoming homeless and can either be a hotel guest room or a small self-contained room with a shared bathroom, kitchen and other living quarters.   

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, San Diego was actually seen as a model for housing people with low incomes in SROs. The City had revised its codes to encourage developers to build new SRO hotels and rehabilitate old ones. Frank Landerville, the executive director of San Diego’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless during that time, spoke often about the importance of SROs and said, “While you won’t solve your homeless problem just by building SROs, you can’t solve your homeless problem without them.”  

After that SRO surge, though, San Diego started losing these naturally affordable homes to new housing, office and retail projects. Very few new SRO homes have been constructed in the last 30 years and, according to a 2020 report by the San Diego Housing Commission, there are currently just 4,732 active SRO units left in San Diego.  

To help change that trend and encourage developers to build more SRO housing, I've proposed a streamlined permit process. HAP 2.0 amends the Affordable Housing in All Communities program to include SROs as a qualifying project in areas near transit where affordable housing is either unavailable or very limited. 

Encouraging the building of more SRO housing is just one of several policies in HAP 2.0 that will work to combat our homelessness crisis. I look forward to presenting these new housing policy reforms to the full City Council for their consideration in coming weeks.  


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