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Thomas P. Carbo, Howard County housing director

As executive director of the Howard County Housing Commission, Thomas Carbo advocated for affordable housing

Thomas P. Carbo, the executive director of the Howard County Housing Commission who worked for affordable housing in downtown Columbia, died of a heart attack Friday at his Bear Creek-Dundalk home. He was 57.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Catonsville, he was the son of Edward and Barbara Ann Carbo. He was a 1977 graduate of Catonsville High School.

He earned a degree in political science degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He was also a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.

He met his future wife, Jean Milani, at a meeting of the Young Democrats of Baltimore County.

He joined the office of the Maryland attorney general in 1984. In 1989, he became a Howard County solicitor. He went on to become Howard County's labor relations coordinator and a hearing examiner for the county's Board of Appeals.

In 2006, then-County Executive Ken Ulman named him deputy director of the county's Department of Housing and Community Development. In 2012, Mr. Ulman appointed him director of that department and executive director of the Housing Commission.

As a county attorney, Mr. Carbo helped write the law that created the commission, whose mission includes creating lower-income housing.

"He combined smarts and the dedication of a true public servant," said Mr. Ulman. "Finding avenues to affordable and workforce housing is a hard thing to do. Conducting that conversation with community groups is not an easy task.

"I saw him standing in front of community groups. He did it with a great demeanor, and he delivered results," Mr. Ulman said. "He had the temperament for it, and he had a transactional mind.

"I can take you to places in Howard County that would not be there without Tom's work," he added. "He left us too young, but he left his mark on Howard County."

In 2011, Mr. Carbo appeared at a public meeting in Ellicott City to explain the reconstruction of the 43-year-old Hilltop public housing complex. The Baltimore Sun reported: "The key, Carbo said, is to build high-quality homes in a desirable location and hire strong management."

Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman said in a statement, "Tom was a passionate advocate and champion who worked tirelessly to create and expand affordable housing programs in Howard County.

"Under his leadership, the Housing Commission made considerable strides, developing model communities such as Monarch Mills and Burgess Mill Station, doubling home ownership during the last eight years, expanding education programs and opportunities to new homebuyers and those seeking financial literacy, and awarding affordable rental and ownership opportunities to those in need," Mr. Kittleman said.

Mr. Carbo recently worked for a downtown Columbia affordable housing agreement. A 2015 Sun article said he supported such a plan "because it would break up the concentration of affordable housing elsewhere."

His colleagues recalled Mr. Carbo's personality.

"He was jovial, easygoing and a talented guy," said Lonnie Robbins, Howard County's chief administrative officer and a friend for many years. "He was quite a good writer, too. He had a quick wit. He liked to help people and was a very caring person. I think that's why he took the housing job. He was a creative problem-solver."

He coached his daughters' softball teams and enjoyed playing golf at Diamond Ridge, at Deep Creek Lake and the Sparrows Point Country Club.

He was a devoted Baltimore Orioles fan and attended numerous games.

A memorial foundation has been established in his name at the Community Foundation of Howard County.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sacred Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, 6736 Youngstown Ave., Baltimore.

Survivors include his wife of 31 years, an exercise equipment repair administrator; a son, Daniel Carbo of Baltimore; two daughters, Jaime Carbo of Glyndon and Kristen Carbo Allen of Laurel; five brothers, Edward Carbo of Clinton, Tenn., William Carbo of Catonsville, Paul Carbo of Cross Junction, Va., Robert Carbo of Clayton, N.C., and Gordon Gray of New York City; and two sisters, Mary Jane Carbo of Washington, N.C., and Susan Bauer of Dublin, Ireland.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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