The Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO) unites organizations to develop, improve, provide, and fund housing options for low-income households in central Ohio. Their mission is essential—and urgent. At the end of 2019, there was only one affordable rental unit for every three renters in poverty. Rent was rising at twice the rate of income.
Fueled by the severity of the housing challenges facing Central Ohio, and understanding the importance of a strong, uniting force, AHACO realized the time was right to hire its first full-time Executive Director. The board sought a leader who was politically savvy, strategic, and strong at building relationships with members, funders, developers, and civic leaders.
Hiring the right person would also be essential to fulfill AHACO’s bold strategic plan—developed in 2017, with a goal of cutting the affordable housing gap in half over 10 years. The plan involved three strategies:
- Develop (new construction, acquisition/rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable renter and owner homes);
- Improve (home repair and modification, focused on seniors and persons with disabilities); and
- Stabilize (rental assistance, ranging from short-term to long-term, linked with programs and services).
A three-year start-up strategy was released in 2018, with a focus on securing public, private, and philanthropic funding commitments to transform the $140 million strategic plan into reality. These ambitious plans were front of mind when AHACO approached Benefactor Group to help identify a dynamic leader who could advance the mission of the Alliance’s member organizations. Benefactor Group helped AHACO’s search committee to craft a job description that captured the exceptional opportunity of the role, develop the candidate pool, vett early candidates, and aid the committee in making objective assessments.
In February of 2020, AHACO announced Carlie J. Boos would assume the position of full-time Executive Director. E.J. Thomas, AHACO Board Chair, remarked that “Carlie brought exceptional skills, experience, and enthusiasm to the job.” The previous executive director, Bobbie Garber, served as Strategic Advisor for Boos’ onboarding to ensure a smooth transition.
Boos’ first year as ED consisted of the herculean obstacles 2020 threw at the world. By November of 2020, Franklin County’s eviction filings were nearly on-par with the previous year’s rates, despite moratorium protections. By December, 19% of Ohio renters were not caught up on rent. In the face of all these challenges, AHACO—with Boos at the helm—was able to advocate for and secure over $24 million in local funding to prevent evictions, support a challenge to hearsay evictions that harmed tenants (which the Court agreed with, leading to a ban of the practice), pass the region’s first ordinance barring discrimination based on income source, and advance a broad Housing for All package. All told, AHACO helped raise over $226 million for new affordable housing activities, exceeding its three-year goal by more than 60%.
Nearly a year after Boos’ appointment, Benefactor Group followed up to see how the organization and Boos were faring. E.J. Thomas had nothing but praise to share for Boos’ leadership. “On a scale of 1 to 10, Carlie is a 12. She’s really been fantastic and was a real find for us.”