MBA CONVERGENCE Partner Profile Series: E.J. Thomas, President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio
(One in a recurring series about MBA CONVERGENCE, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s affordable housing initiative.)
E.J. Thomas has been President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio for the 17 years and is responsible for oversight and operation of one of the nation’s top Habitat affiliates. Each year between 80 and 100+ families are served in central Ohio through new home construction, home rehabs and critical home repairs. He has overseen a transition that resulted in blending of three counties into the central Ohio service area, which required the name change from “Greater Columbus” to the current moniker.
In addition, “ReStore” production has increased significantly, from an average of $18k per month at the start of his tenure to an average of $200-$220k. He spearheaded the successful “Habitat Housing Initiative,” resulting in $4.75 million raised to increase the affiliate’s capacity to serve more families throughout its service area. Recognized by his peers in the central Ohio business community, he was awarded CEO Magazine’s, “CEO of the Year” for large non-profit organizations.
MBA NEWSLINK: What is your role in CONVERGENCE and why is it important to you?
E.J. THOMAS, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY-MIDOHIO: For the last 17 years as our Habitat affiliate executive, I have been actively involved in working to provide more affordable housing in central Ohio neighborhoods that have been in decline over the last several decades. The work of Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio is primarily focused on areas of Columbus where the proportion of Black residents is high. Providing an opportunity for home ownership by way of a zero-percent mortgage for deserving families willing to partner with us with the investment of their “sweat equity” is something about which I am passionate.
The work of CONVERGENCE Columbus is perfectly aligned with these efforts, as the goal is to increase the percentage of Black homeownership. To be part of this work is rewarding, as I am confident that all the invested effort by those involved in the work of CONVERGENCE will be fruitful.
NEWSLINK: What has been your most meaningful accomplishment or experience since working with CONVERGENCE?
THOMAS: Teaming up with so many dedicated professionals who have been focusing their efforts on affordable housing is heartening. In order to move the needle and increase the percentage of Black homeownership, it will “take a village” that is laser focused on this very worthwhile goal.
NEWSLINK: What CONVERGENCE initiative or project are you most excited about for the future?
THOMAS: Given our Habitat-MidOhio efforts to provide repair services for homeowners, I am honored to be a lead on the Preservation & Sustainability Committee of CONVERGENCE Columbus. Bringing our Habitat experience to the effort is exciting, as I see a real opportunity for what we’ve been doing over these last ten years to be scaled up. Black homeownership is important from the perspective of attracting and qualifying new owners; however, without a robust effort to preserve the asset for Blacks who already own their homes means we’re missing an opportunity to ensure those who need repairs don’t lose their homes due to circumstances related to not being able to afford those repairs.
NEWSLINK: What else would you share with MBA members who want to learn more about CONVERGENCE?
THOMAS: I encourage anyone interested to touch base with anyone who is currently involved in CONVERGENCE Columbus. There’s always room for one more!
(A video in which Thomas discusses the CONVERGENCE initiative in Columbus can be viewed at:
CONVERGENCE is driving collective action with lenders, other industry participants and government partners to facilitate new solutions to our nation’s rental and housing affordability challenges. By using a cohesive approach, CONVERGENCE promotes more sustainable, affordable homes for purchase and rental for underserved people and communities, especially minorities and low-to-moderate-income Americans.