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BC Housing CEO to step away after recent attacks on unhoused people, threats to himself

“I no longer have confidence I can solve the complex problems facing us”
BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsey announced his retirement Aug. 2. (BC Housing website)

BC Housing’s CEO is retiring, citing a lack of confidence in his ability to solve the complexity of housing and homelessness in the province anymore.

In an announcement Tuesday (Aug. 2), Shayne Ramsey said a series of disturbing incidents against unhoused individuals and threats of violence against himself in recent months have convinced him it’s time to step aside.

“I no longer have confidence I can solve the complex problems facing us at BC Housing,” he said in a statement.

The 61-year-old said the job has always been a difficult one, but that a number of incidents since May have really stuck with him.

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There was the fatal stabbing in Crab Park Ramsey witnessed while walking his dog on a Saturday-morning in May, the Langley shooting that is believed to have targeted a number of people experiencing homelessness in late-July, and the woman who was intentionally lit on fire in the Downtown Eastside last week. Then last Tuesday (July 26), Ramsey said he was personally swarmed and threatened with physical violence by opponents while speaking with media about a housing public hearing.

“This time it was angry words and a fist, next time it could be worse,” Ramsey said in his retirement announcement.

“These incidents are not isolated, nor are they the only incidents that have caused me to lay awake at night. From the Interior to the West Side, doubtless small but vocal groups of people are increasingly angry and increasingly volatile. While one community faces the almost certain prospect of poverty, poor health, violence and pre-mature death, others are now unwilling to provide a welcoming space, a space that could save lives.”

Ramsey said the final straw was when Vancouver police officers shot a man on East Hastings Street on Saturday (July 30) after he allegedly assaulted one of them.

“It is time for someone else to step into the leadership role at BC Housing,” Ramsey said.

He added he wants to devote more time to his kids and grandkids and to tackling “problems I still feel I can solve.”

His announcement comes just short of a month after the province fired the board of the housing agency, following an external review of it released in May. Conducted by Ernst and Young, the review included 44 recommendations and pointed out issues with unclear roles and responsibilities, underfunded technology and, in some cases, poor documentation.

Ramsey has been BC Housing’s CEO for 26 year. His final day will be Sept. 6.

In a statement, the Ministry of Housing said the BC Housing board will start work immediately to find Ramsey’s replacement.


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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