COVID-19 in Single Room Occupancies (SROs)

The evidence is clear that pandemics exploit the existing inequities in our society. Some communities are more affected because of systemic racism, income insecurity, housing conditions, and structural inequalities. This page focuses on the impacts of the pandemic on residents of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) buildings. Residents in this type of housing may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as a result of their housing and the overlapping structural inequities and systemic racism that are closely linked to housing. Ensuring the health and safety of these COVID-vulnerable residents is the top priority for the City.
Get Help
If you are a resident of an SRO with concerns about rent, health, or safety, please reach out to the following organizations:
- Call Central City SRO Collaborative or La Voz Latina at 415-775-7110 or 415-983-3970
- Call Chinatown SRO Collaborative or SRO Families United Collaborative at 415-984-2730
- Call Mission SRO Collaborative at 415-282-6209 ext. 150
What is a Single Room Occupancy building?
SRO buildings are defined by the San Francisco Housing Code as having six or more "residential guest rooms" which may be attached to shared bathrooms, kitchens, and living spaces. These shared spaces may increase the risk of infection spread as residents who test positive may not be able to self-isolate or quarantine effectively.
How is the City prioritizing these residents?
The City is committed to helping residents remain safe during the pandemic by preventing the spread of COVID-19 in these higher-risk buildings. One aspect of prevention includes ensuring the buildings are adequately cleaned. To that end, the City provides SRO buildings with both hard-to-acquire cleaning supplies and necessary health items such as face masks, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper. The City also provides emergency janitorial cleaning services for shared spaces to over 100 buildings for 14-day periods. Additionally, the City hosts testing and education events at these buildings for the residents.
To ensure residents receive adequate care and to limit the further spread of the virus, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) offers Isolation & Quarantine (I&Q) sites as part of the City's COVID-19 alternative housing program. These sites provide temporary shelter and medical care for suspected and confirmed COVID-positive patients who cannot safely isolate or quarantine in their own households.
How does the City respond to suspected or positive cases in these buildings?
DPH follows a standard procedure each time a resident of an SRO tests positive for COVID-19. These steps include notifying the building manager there has been at least one positive case (while protecting the patient’s privacy), providing educational and outreach materials, and providing referrals to cleaning services. DPH conducts extensive interviews and contact tracing with each individual testing positive and, depending on their needs, may refer people to testing, to Isolation & Quarantine care, and to resources like food delivery and cleaning supplies for those who can safely isolate and quarantine at home.
Cases & Deaths in SROs
The dashboard below includes data about how the pandemic has affected residents of SROs. Please note, not all SRO residents who test positive for COVID-19 need to stay at an I&Q site, as many are able to self-isolate or quarantine in their homes or in other ways.
In order to account for the time to process tests and validate the data, cases and deaths data are lagged by seven days. As more information is collected, case counts reported on previous days may increase or decrease. All data will be updated as more information becomes available. Learn more about this update process.
Data Notes
Individuals are initially identified as a resident of an SRO based on a process that matches the individual's address (provided at the time of COVID-19 testing) with a list of SROs in San Francisco. The details of a person's living arrangements are then verified during case interviews. The data on this page may be updated as a result of information gathered in those interviews.
The deaths shown here are suspected to be associated with COVID-19 or have COVID-19 listed as the cause of death. Deaths are reported by medical providers and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
In order to protect individuals’ privacy, the City does not share information on any individual building or any individual. See our Privacy guidelines here.