SRO Scenes: One resident vows to move on
By Lindsey Leak
(One in a series on life in San Francisco’s SRO hotels.)
"I told myself, if I live in the city, I'm not going to live in an SRO. No way," said Leo DiMagnampo, current resident of the Hamlin Hotel in the Tenderloin.
DiMagnampo has been staying at the Hamlin, one of the downtown’s many single room occupancy hotels, for 30 days.
"It sucks," said DiMagnampo. "It's something that you just don't want to catch yourself living in because the majority of the people that live in SROs are on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and their care is through the government or the County of San Francisco. It's not something that's nice to be putting up with on a daily basis, it may be nice if you're going to stay one night or maybe a couple of nights, but staying here for awhile could make you go insane."
DiMagnampo ended up at the Hamlin after his parents were in an accident that caused the death of his father. Prior to that he had been living in Vegas, making $23 dollars an hour building casinos.
"I got into drugs. You play with fire, you get burned," said DiMagnampo. "You become irresponsible because you're looking for your high and then you're on your lows. Then you gotta turn yourself around and continue picking up the pieces and if you still have a mind you can continue moving ahead and learn from your mistakes."
SROs are independently run and have varying rules and safety precautions. SROs can range from a small room with a sink and a shared bathroom down the hall, to a room with a bathroom, shower and kitchenette.
"I try to think of it as temporary, like ... this is not my home," said DiMagnampo.
The Hamlin offers small rooms with bathrooms and has a 9 p.m. curfew. Those who don't make curfew face a night on the street. DiMagnampo plans to move out at the first opportunity
"Some places have bedbugs and whoever is in charge of the SROs needs to step up their act," said DiMagnampo. "They need to renovate a lot of these places. The government needs to put the money into the right sources, I mean, this is supposed to help people."