Tree lives in the Mission Hotel, San Francisco’s largest single room occupancy (SRO) hotel. This 49-year old mother of two adult children is new to this kind of living. With thin walls, narrow halls, and windows that overlook a central shaft littered with trash and hypodermic needles known as “crack alley,” privacy is impossible to maintain.

Once a successful casting director and student Academy Award winner, Tree was employed until less than two years ago, when she stopped the heavy psychiatric medication that had (mostly) kept her out of the hospital. She was homeless for three months before moving into the Mission Hotel, where she started using drugs and selling sex.

I developed a relationship with Tree over the course of seven months, first while reporting this story (missionlocal.org/2010/01/women-seek-stability-in-sros/), and then during the four months I spent documenting her daily life in the hotel.

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