Arizona Housing Fund founder's ambitious goal: Raise $100M to help the homeless

Howard Epstein.jpg
Posted at 8:53 AM, Jan 05, 2021

Howard Epstein, a Valley executive with Bank of America, launched the Arizona Housing Fund in August 2019 to provide grants to Arizona nonprofits to build permanent, supportive, low-income and working poor housing.

With donations generated primarily from $25 contributions made by individuals buying or selling a single-family residence, Arizona Housing Fund has generated $325,000 in donations from more than 800 donors in the first 15 months of operations. We caught up with Epstein recently about how his project has been going.

Why did you start the Arizona Housing Fund? I have been working on the homeless and housing problem for over 25 years. We know the long-term solution is more permanent supportive housing (PSH) and low-income housing. Adding new units is expensive and I wanted to find a way to get equity dollars to our fantastic nonprofits who do this kind of work. We need more units now.

How did you come up with this idea? Initially, I wanted to see legislation that would add a $25 fee to all homes sold. However, I soon learned the chances of this passing were unlikely. I created Arizona Housing Fund as a private sector solution to a growing problem. We ask buyers and sellers of homes to donate $25 directly from escrow. It’s the equivalent to a donation at the grocery store checkout. Thanks to broad support from real estate brokerages, homebuilders, and individual donors, we think this could be a model for the other 49 states.

Read more from the Phoenix Business Journal.