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Social housing provider Atira gives back $2M to B.C. government, launches review

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia housing group that was named in a damning forensic audit says it has returned almost $2 million in surplus funds to the provincial government.

Atira Women’s Resource Society says the $1.9 million it will return is from the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years.

The society also says in a statement it takes the independent audit with the “utmost seriousness,” and that it will establish its own task force to oversee a review of its policies and practices.

The audit by Ernst and Young found mismanagement at the provincial social housing provider, BC Housing, related to its former CEO, who is married to the head of Atira, Janice Abbott.

The report said it found significant risk to public funds and Premier David Eby said after its release that efforts to hide those activities from the government were very troubling.

Eby said he had deep concerns about the situation at Atira, that the government would restrict its funding, suspend the renewal of agreements and launch inspections of buildings the company manages.

Atira’s statement says now that it has had the opportunity to consider the report, the board will conduct the comprehensive third-party review of its policies and practices, including on conflict of interest.

It says its focus will remain on its staff and the vulnerable populations it has served for many decades.

“Atira does critical work each day to protect women and children affected by violence by offering supportive housing and delivering education and advocacy aimed at ending all forms of gendered violence,” board chair Elva Kim says in the statement.

“This independent review, in addition to the BC Housing investigation, will help ensure we can continue to do the work that serves this community.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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