Local banker, Howard Epstein, founded the Arizona Housing Fund in 2019 to help provide affordable housing. The fund recently received some big donations. Epstein discussed this with us and the need for affordable housing in Arizona, and how the problem is getting worse.
He talked about what affordable housing is. He said it is permanent and is like any other apartment building. You sign a lease, and you can stay there as long as you pay the lease and follow the rules.
Supportive services are provided there for some of the most vulnerable citizens. This can include people with mental illnesses, addictions, and even veterans. This can help veterans get their benefits. Being permanent housing with supportive services available is what sets it apart, Epstein said.
We talked about the Arizona banks that are involved with the donations. He said they are seeing an “all hands on deck attitude” in the community, especially from the real estate community. He even specifies that it is the residential real estate community. He explains that other industries are also jumping in to help.
He said some of these include banks and law firms. He said anytime they are closing a transaction at an escrow company, they give them the opportunity to donate $25 to the Arizona Housing Fund. People give donations when people are given the opportunity to donate.
He compares it to a grocery store checkout when they ask you if you would like to donate to something like the children’s hospital. We also talked about how he came up with the idea of the fund.
He said they have been battling the housing problem for a long time. He said the solutions are hard to come by but housing helps. Many people in the state are in temporary housing or emergency housing and need places to live. This is a way to help them out.
They have some big goals. One goal is to get other states involved. He said all of their goals don’t seem so out of the picture or unrealistic when they look at what Pet Smart’s charities have done. Over the last 25 years, they have raised $400 million for pet charities. He looks at that and thinks, why can’t they raise $100 million.