Rooming House Advocacy
West Broadway Community Organization (WBCO) recognizes the value of affordable housing in our community. No other Winnipeg neighbourhood offers its residents the scope of resources and amenities, all within walking distance; this is a neighbourhood where a person can live well with very little money. WBCO and our partners are committed to maintaining a foothold in West Broadway for lower income households and we recognize rooming houses as a key part of that effort.
Rooming houses, like all forms of tenure can be well managed, safe, and comfortable places for people to live, particularly those with modest incomes or challenging rental histories. West Broadway is home to approximately 45 rooming houses with an average of eight units per building. The University of Winnipeg's Institute of Urban Studies estimates that over 500 rooming house units have been lost to conversion and fire since the early 1990s. Replacing existing units with social or subsidized housing would cost hundreds of millions of public dollars, and replacing these buildings via the private sector is not financially viable. Thus, we believe it is crucial to preserve existing stock, support those that are operating at a high standard, and to improve the social and physical conditions of those that are struggling.
Too often rooming houses are cast in a negative and inaccurate light. In West Broadway, the majority are licensed, well run, and offer long term homes for a wide spectrum of tenants, many working people, students, those with modest incomes, and many who are suffering with longstanding physical and mental health issues. Like all forms of tenure, some are poorly managed and vulnerable residents and their neighbours suffer as a result but these must be dealt with wisely or our communities will continue to lose many more affordable units than we are currently adding.
WBCO is featured in the excellent 2015 documentary, Rooming Houses to Rooming Homes, funded by the CCPA-MB: