Short Doc Shows Life in a Bay Area SRO

'Home is a Hotel' by East Bay filmmakers Kevin D. Wong and Todd Sills tells the story of a single immigrant mother living in a San Francisco SRO.

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As the Express recently reported, Oakland's number of SRO hotels has swiftly been dwindling as developers are buying them up to convert them into boutique hotels or apartments with rent prices out of reach for low-income tenants. SROs typically serve as affordable housing for people who can't afford more stable options. Many cities, such as San Francisco, have laws in place to protect SROs — but Oakland does not. 

A ten-minute documentary by East Bay residents Kevin D. Wong and Todd Sills, however, highlights how, even for SRO tenants who aren't facing eviction, life can already be a struggle. Home is a Hotel is a tender portrait of a Chinese immigrant living in an SRO in San Francisco with her daughter — highlighting the ways in which the housing opportunity offers an option for people, such as immigrants, who may need some time to get on their feet financially. The piece, which was filmed in 2014, ends by noting that in the year and a half since its filming, the average rental price of an SRO has increased 45%. 

Home is a Hotel is currently being hosted on PBS Video as part of the PBS Online Film Festival. Watch it below, or on the PBS site along with other entries. 


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