Single-room occupancy housing (SROs) in New York City typically consists of single room dwellings without a bathroom, kitchen, or shower. These facilities exist in a separate part of a housing complex. SROs can be found in buildings with less than 30 total housing units, like apartment hotels and lodging houses. (apartmentlawinsider.com, 2021)
They could be found all over the city until about 50 or 60 years ago, when laws were passed which strictly regulated any new construction or alterations of existing SRO housing.
In order to be covered by the Rent Stabilization Code, and thus be more affordable and immune to the skyrocketing market-rate rents around the city, a SRO building must have at least six units of housing, and it must have been constructed before 1969. Furthermore, for-profit SRO development must be either owned, operated, or used by a non-profit. Add to that the fact that there is a cap on the number of units per zoning lot, and there is not much incentive to develop. (tenant.net, 2021)
These regulations make it decidedly difficult for SROs to exist in NYC at all, and the result has been an almost complete absence of single-room occupancy housing throughout the city. Many critics of the regulations have noted that the policy surrounding SROs has amplified NYC's housing crisis by constricting the low-income housing market and exacerbating homelessness.
There have been calls to relax regulations of SROs, with the hope that they can alleviate some of the housing stresses, both in New York City and across the country. (cuny.edu, 2013, huduser.gov, 2018)