Arizona has a homelessness problem, and with the expiration on Dec. 31 of the eviction moratorium for Arizona residents affected by COVID-19, the situation is expected to become worse. With 10,000 people already on the streets in Arizona (according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and a growing waiting list for affordable rental housing, Arizona’s housing advocates know more needs to be done.
That’s where Arizona Housing Fund comes in. First launched in August 2019, the fund will be used to provide grants to Arizona nonprofits to build permanent supportive, low-income and working poor housing. With donations generated primarily from voluntary $25 contributions made by individuals buying or selling a single-family residence, Arizona Housing Fund has generated $352,000 in donations from more than 800 donors in its first 15 months.
“The response has been incredible,” says Howard Epstein, an executive with Bank of America, board member of the nonprofit Arizona Housing Inc., and founder of the Arizona Housing Fund. “This completely voluntary endeavor has really caught on, and once people understand how it works, it’s an easy sell. It takes about 20 seconds to fill out the form to make the $25 donation, and the donation is deposited directly into the fund by the title company.”
Howard says the next step will be expanding partnerships with large residential real estate brokerages and mortgage brokers who can help get participation on an even bigger scale, noting that 100% of every dollar donated goes directly into the fund.
Brian North, owner of North&Co. is an example of a real estate brokerage that has embraced Arizona Housing Fund in a big way, enlisting the participation of all brokers, and generating buy-in from buyers and sellers. Their goal is to reach 100% participation, and the company proudly announces how much they have raised each month on social media.
“When I was introduced to Howard Epstein, I felt his passion,” says Brian. “When I came to understand that 100% of Arizona Housing Fund donor dollars go to providing shelter for Arizona’s homeless population, we as a real estate company could not be more aligned. We provide beautiful homes for those who can afford to make it happen and, equally as powerful; we have an opportunity to provide homes for those who cannot. We are so proud to be a part of the Arizona Housing Fund and will continue to contribute for the foreseeable future.”
With Arizona new home sales skyrocketing, homebuilders are also stepping up. Meritage Homes, a partner from the start, has pledged to match every $25 contribution made by Meritage homebuyers.
The first affordable housing grant is expected to be awarded in early 2021, says Howard. The Arizona Housing Fund is not endowed, meaning it will need to be replenished with additional donations each time grants are awarded.
For more information, visit arizonahousingfund.org.