Shayne Ramsey, the CEO of BC Housing has announced his retirement, citing threats, treatment of homeless, and a loss of confidence as the reasons.
In a letter posted to the BC Housing website, Ramsey says there is increasing anger and volatility towards homeless people in the province.
“From the Interior to the West Side, doubtless small but vocal groups of people are increasingly angry and increasingly volatile,” Ramsey writes.
“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.”
On the beach, a man lay fatally stabbed. My neighbour, who lingered a bit longer than Fred and me, was bowled over by the two young men accused of his murder as they ran across the park to get to him. 2/10
— Shayne Ramsay (@Shayne_Ramsay) August 2, 2022
He says that the May 7 murder near the Crab Park homeless encampment in Vancouver was a turning point for him.
“I watched out my window as police descended on Crab Park. I had just returned, minutes earlier, from taking our dog Fred for our regular morning walk,” he writes.
“On the beach, a man lay fatally stabbed. My neighbour, who lingered a bit longer than Fred and me, was bowled over by the two young men accused of his murder as they ran across the park to get to him.”
Ramsey says there have been several incidents in the past week that have caused him to lay awake at night.
“Over the past week, people who were homeless and formerly homeless were murdered, and a woman was intentionally lit on fire just a block from where I live,” he said.
“Then, last Tuesday afternoon, after talking to the media about my closing remarks at the Arbutus public hearing, I was swarmed by opponents and threatened with physical violence. I had to be escorted to a private elevator, for my safety.”
He notes these are not isolated incidents, just recent ones.
“I think the shooting on Hastings Street, surrounded by the encampment and during another heat wave, finally did it for me,” Ramsey said.
“I no longer have confidence I can solve the complex problems facing us at BC Housing.”
After 26 years at BC Housing, Ramsey says his last day will be Sept. 6.