For $25, Arizona Home Buyers Can Help Solve the State’s Affordable Housing Problem

Article originally posted on AZ Central on November 4, 2019

For $25, Arizona homebuyers can help put a roof over the heads of people who can’t find a home they can afford.

Rapidly rising rents in metro Phoenix are putting the squeeze on a record number of residents, and the Valley doesn’t have enough affordable housing for the growing number of people becoming homeless.

To help the many people struggling to find a place they can afford, a voluntary program just launched to fund the development of more affordable rental housing.

The Arizona Housing Fund will collect donations from homebuyers, who can contribute when they close escrow, homebuilders, and real-estate agents, who can match their buyers’ donations as well as money from anyone who wants to help people struggling to find a home in the state.

Arizona currently has no dedicated fund for affordable housing.

The new fund has already drawn support from the Arizona Community Foundation, homebuilders, real-estate agents and government and business leaders.

“Too many people are stuck because there is a shortage of safe, decent, affordable housing,” said Howard Epstein, a board member of the nonprofit Arizona Housing Inc. and an executive with Bank of America.

Epstein came up with the grassroots effort to ask the real-estate industry to help fund a solution to the problem. He hopes it could raise $100 million in the next 10 to 15 years.

‘Close on your home and get someone closer to home’

That’s the motto of the program asking homebuyers to add $25 to their escrow and closing costs to donate toward affordable housing.

The average escrow and closing costs in metro Phoenix are about $3,200, according to financial research firm SmartAsset.