Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Where I Will Call Home for a Year

I have had some people asking about where I will be living when I am in the DTES, so I thought I would write a post.

I will be living in a Single Room Occupancy Hotel (SRO) also called a slum hotel in the DTES. Wikipeda describes a SRO as a multiple tenant building that houses one or two people in individual rooms (sometimes two rooms, or two rooms with a bathroom or half bathroom), or to the single room dwelling itself. SRO tenants typically share bathrooms and/or kitchens, while some SRO rooms may include kitchenettes, bathrooms, or half-baths. Although many are former hotels, SROs are primarily rented as a permanent residence. I will not have a kitchen and I might have a bathroom.

I do not think this adequately describes the conditions of an SRO. My first experience in an SRO was in San Francisco, where I was working in urban missions with the Center for Student Missions. I was delivering meals to people living in SROs. I remember walking into a dark, musty, and dingy stair way, scattered with garbage, the carpet and walls where stained and I saw vomit in a corner. I could smell a mix of stale and new cigarette, marijuana and crack smoke, and both animal and human waste. The stench remained me of a the same smells from a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico, but made worse because they were confined in a building.

I was in complete shock; I could not believe people in North America lived in such deplorable conditions. It was one thing when I experienced poverty in a developing country, I expected that, not that it makes it any less horrible, but when I experienced poverty conditions like that in my own back yard it shock me to the core. From my time in San Francisco the SROs where the most disturbing and upsetting, and I saw a lot of pain and brokenness, but the SROs are what put me over the edge and made me want to run and hide. So it is a little more then ironic that I am going to be living in an SRO! Oh Jesus please help me. Please be praying for me. The SRO that I visited when I was at RAW was one of the better ones I have ever seen, but there is no grantee that I will be living in that one, and there still are mice, bed bugs, and cockroaches as roommates. Please do not worry, I will have human roomates as well, I will not be alone in this.

I do not write all this for you to feel sorry for me. No, I write this because I want people to become aware that we have poverty in our own back yard, you do not need to go to Mexico to love the poor, lost and broken, you just need to go downtown and walk the streets, volunteer at a soup kitchen. Get involved in your community, Jesus has people for you to love right here in your own community.

With love,



  1. Maria, You inspire me. I look forward to visiting you in your SRO often next year. :)

  2. Thank you Suzanne, you inspire me! The Bible talks about this, encouraging each other, and spurring one another on! Thank you for being my sister, for sharpening me.

    I want to open the invite to everyone to come and visit me while I’m in the DTES. I will not be able to house you, but I will be able to introduce you to my friends, show you around, and you could get involved in some of the work we do.