The Reality of SRO’s in Vancouver

Having to live in an SRO (Single Room Occupancy Unit) is the reality for many of our youth and other low income residents of Vancouver. SRO’s are often the only housing our youth can find or afford and they are not the best places to live. Most SRO’s are on the Downtown East Side and are in disrepair, have bug and/or rat infestations and are generally unsafe. Having done Street Outreach in the past myself and visiting youth in many SRO’s, I can tell you they are only barely better than living on the streets.

Rooms typically do not have a bathroom or any kitchen facilities; this means a shared washroom which is often broken or filthy. Rooms can also easily be broken into and occurrences of theft are not unusual. Drug use is also rampant in many SRO’s so if you are trying to get or stay clean and sober it can be a very triggering environment.

Many Vancouverites are not aware of how bad the living situation is in these “apartments”, as they often look clean and well maintained from the outside. We all know how expensive it is to live in and around Vancouver, even if you have a decent job and support network. Having clean, safe and affordable housing is crucial for all people.

Having to live in an SRO (Single Room Occupancy Unit) is the reality for many of our youth and other low income residents of Vancouver. SRO’s are often the only housing our youth can find or afford and they are not the best places to live. Most SRO’s are on the Downtown East Side and are in disrepair, have bug and/or rat infestations and are generally unsafe. Having done Street Outreach in the past myself and visiting youth in many SRO’s, I can tell you they are only barely better than living on the streets.

Rooms typically do not have a bathroom or any kitchen facilities; this means a shared washroom which is often broken or filthy. Rooms can also easily be broken into and occurrences of theft are not unusual. Drug use is also rampant in many SRO’s so if you are trying to get or stay clean and sober it can be a very triggering environment.

Many Vancouverites are not aware of how bad the living situation is in these “apartments”, as they often look clean and well maintained from the outside. We all know how expensive it is to live in and around Vancouver, even if you have a decent job and support network. Having clean, safe and affordable housing is crucial for all people.

Have a read of this illuminating article The Tyee recently wrote about this problem and also this report on SRO’s from the Carnegie Community Action Project.


Picture from 24 Hours Vancouver