Robert “Bo” Chilton is CEO of IMPACT Community Action, one of the leading human service agencies fighting poverty in Franklin County. Its 75 employees serve more than 25,000 customers annually by providing hope-inspiring help and real opportunities for self-sufficiency. From homelessness prevention, to utility assistance, to helping individuals obtain and sustain employment, IMPACT is focused on moving families and individuals from crisis to stability.
A native of Springfield, Ohio, Chilton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Education in secondary teaching from Wright State University. He was a middle school teacher and high school teacher in Springfield, an Assistant Director of Career Services at Otterbein University, an Academic Counselor and Technology Coordinator for the Arts and Sciences Department at The Ohio State University, a Legislative Analyst for Columbus City Council, and the Director of African American Male Initiatives at the Columbus Urban League.
He has chaired the Ohio Urban Resources System (OURS), in association with the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, and has served as a board member of the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio and the African American Leadership Academy. A member of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, and a veteran of the Army Reserves, Chilton and his wife Audrey, are the proud parents of 14-year-old Brandon and 10-year-old Sydney.
Chilton joined Homeport’s Board of Directors in June 2018.
Why are you passionate about the Homeport mission?
As the CEO of IMPACT Community Action, I find Homeport’s mission to be very much in line with the mission of my own organization. Both of our organizations seek to empower people, build strong communities and revitalize neighborhoods. I believe we will accomplish these goals by strengthening our partnerships and by providing comprehensive solutions to address both personal and systemic barriers to our customers’ success.
What would you tell a friend who was considering getting involved with Homeport as a donor or volunteer?
Homeport is one of the best organizations to get involved with and make an IMPACT on our community. The work Homeport does is transformative. We simply need to get to a scale where everyone in our community has the opportunity to thrive. Collectively, we can get there but we need everyone to get engaged.
What do you feel is the most critical aspect of affordable housing in Columbus and Central Ohio?
Making it affordable! We have an affordability crisis.
We especially need more affordable rental housing for low-income people. Governmental shifts supporting housing tax credits and low-income programs have made it increasingly difficult to entice housing developers to build affordable housing.
Central Ohio has one of the hottest housing markets in the country and while we are fortunate to have low unemployment, it is skewed by a plethora of low wage jobs that have significantly increased the number of people categorized as “the working poor.”
Poor credit history, felony convictions, extremely high eviction rates and aggressive screening criteria by landlords in a seller’s market have created a class of “unrentables” -- people who are finding it next to impossible to find decent, safe and affordable rental housing.