Single Room Occupancy (SRO) housing is an integral part of what remains of the low-income rental market in New York City. Rents for SRO units are lower than other forms of non-subsidized housing simply because they are the most basic form of housing available and a single step above homelessness. Although a dwindling resource, up to 15% of all units available to poor New Yorkers are SROs. Consequently, their loss through deregulation, demolition, and illegal conversions has a disproportionate impact on the low-income rental market. Until a significant new form of affordable housing is created and made available to the poorest New Yorkers, the MFY’s SRO Law Project will continue to protect the marginalized tenant population living in these increasingly endangered units.
MFY’s SRO Law Project represents tenants in eviction proceedings, preventing the illegal conversion of SRO units, helps tenants to stabilize their income and benefits, and assists city agencies in monitoring SRO compliance with existing law.
The SRO Law Project also works with groups of tenants and helps organize them to take collective action. The project is currently engaged in several building-wide actions against residential hotels in Brooklyn. After forcing the landlord of one such hotel to correct egregious conditions, discharge staff who were physically intimidating our clients, and issue rent overcharge credits, we are working to prevent an owner from dividing the building into multiple parts to accommodate a fictitious ‘supportive residence’ program. This division would cut off our clients from the common area facilities and would exacerbate already-overcrowded restroom access. Finally, along with MFY’s Three-Quarter House Project, we are seeking a way to fully block the entry of these phony ‘supportive residence’ programs in rent-stabilized SROs, and the subsequent illegal evictions they inevitably cause.