Sai Hotel. 964 Howard Street.
Near the middle of February 2001, a week after I left the hospital, I rented lodgings at the Sai Hotel for 400 dollars a month.* As this was well below what other SROs were charging, it seemed like a bargain until I actually saw what I had rented. On the top floor at the back of the building was an undersized door that opened inward on an absurdly small room. I first thought I had opened the wrong door, but the number on the lintel said otherwise. The bit of floorspace unoccupied by the bed was just a narrow strip along the length of the room. As this was mostly taken up by a small sink and a nightstand, all that remained empty was clearance for the door. When using the door from inside the room, I had no choice but to stand on the bed. Every time I shaved or washed my face, I risked electrocution by the ungrounded electrical outlet in an open utility box over the sink. For all practical purposes inaccessible, the lead-colored walls were entirely bare. A diminutive window above the nightstand provided meager illumination that was never sufficient to wholly dispel the gloom. More light was available from a naked sixty-watt light bulb suspended by a length of ancient, cloth-insulated wire, but I rarely used it as the glare was intolerable.. Every aspect of the room was uncomfortable and oppressive. It felt like a broom closet, in fact I think it had been one, but it was the first place I could call home after nearly six years on the streets.
*cf. Personal History.