Rooming houses have frequently been dubbed death traps because of the circumstances that bring the poor, disabled and addicted together in older, two- or three-storey buildings.
In Winnipeg alone in the last three years, dozens of people have been left homeless, six killed and many more injured. And that was in nine fires alone.
The statistics are unacceptable, yet the city continues to issue self-satisfied statements about how the problem is "actively being addressed."
Not good enough. The thousands of people who live in the city's 200 licensed rooming houses and roughly 1,000 unlicensed establishments have a right to more information about what, if anything, is being done to protect them.
Some rooming houses may be well-managed, but too many appear to be neglected. The province, city and community agencies need to conduct an inventory to determine which buildings are safe in the hands of private owners and which should be bought out or expropriated.
These structures are as important to the community as single-room occupancy hotels in the inner city -- people need a place to live -- but they must be better-managed and inspected to stop the carnage befalling those who are least capable of defending themselves.