A Single Room Occupancy, also known as an SRO, is a type of housing in which one or two (sometimes more) people are housed in individual rooms within a multiple tenant building. SRO tenants typically share many of the residency’s facilities, including kitchens and bathrooms. Some SRO rooms may incude kitchenettes, bathrooms, or half baths. Many SRO’s are primarily rented as permanent residences, though tenants may change frequently.

SRO’s are often a form of affordable housing for low-income residents.  They were born out of urban overcrowding as cities scrambled to meet housing demands produced by a drastic population increase om the early 20th century. However, SRO’s have evolved from a cramped but affordable housing option into a poorly regulated housing option for many of the city’s lower income populations.

How Do SRO’s Relate to Illegal Conversions?

In Brooklyn, an SRO is typically the outcome of an illegal conversion. A landlord will purchase a building – typically a one or two family home – and illegally convert it into an SRO. This housing is illegal because it violates the zoning regulations for some areas. In other circumstances, the house itself was not constructed for the current use and cannot safely accommodate all the people living in the residence. Illegal conversions create living conditions different from what is permissible under current building codes, resulting in residences that are unsafe for occupants, neighbors, and responding emergency personnel.

For more information about illegal conversions, read this article.