An embattled non-profit housing provider gave an update Tuesday on its efforts to “reset” and renew following the high-profile exit of its CEO.
Janice Abbott stepped down as the head of the Atira Women’s Resources Society in May, a week after the release of a scathing forensic audit of BC Housing that found a conflict of interest.
Atira CEO Janice Abbot resigns, week after damning BC Housing audit
On Tuesday, the organization released a “100-day” update as the organization seeks to “renew public trust” under interim CEO Catherine Roome.
Since kicking off the renewal, Atira has introduced a code of conduct with an emphasis on avoiding conflict of interest and introduced a new whistleblower line to “foster a speak-up culture” the organization said.
It has also conducted its first risk assessment, and reviewed its compliance with statutes and regulations as well as its operating contracts with BC Housing.
A review of real estate assets also led to the decision to sell at 1,500 square-foot live/work space, Atira said.
Additionally, the organization has launched a third-party review of its board governance to modernize its oversight practices and is working on recruiting a permanent new CEO.
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The May audit into BC Housing highlighted a conflict of interest between its own CEO, Shane Ramsay, and Abbott, to whom he was married.
The Ernst and Young report found that while no individual benefitted materially from the relationships, Atira was awarded contracts without a competitive process, received a substantial increase in funding, and got at least $3 million in COVID-19 funds without appropriate internal BC Housing approval.
Atira also took actions contrary to its operation agreements, the audit found, including using $2 million in restricted, repayable funds to help fund a property purchase. The provider bypassed BC Housing’s standard approval channels and approached senior members of the Crown corporation directly for funding and other requests multiple times, it added.
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