Arizona Asks Home Buyers to Pitch in on Affordable Housing

October 4, 2019

The lack of affordable housing in many markets has become such a severe problem that one state is encouraging home buyers to donate funds toward housing causes at the closing table. Arizona has launched a voluntary program for buyers to donate $25 at settlement toward helping to combat homelessness. State officials are reaching out to home builders and real estate professionals to help spread the word about the potential impact such a donation could have on local communities.

“Too many people are stuck because there is a shortage of safe, decent, affordable housing,” Howard Epstein, a board member of the nonprofit Arizona Housing Inc., told The Arizona Republic. For example, the average rent in the Phoenix area has surged more than 8% over the past year—nearly triple the average rent increase nationally—according to data from RealPage. That has put a growing number of people in the state at risk of becoming homeless.

Epstein, who came up with the idea for the voluntary program, has requested that agents and homebuilders ask their buyers for a donation when they close escrow. He also has urged agents to match their clients’ donations. Epstein’s goal is to raise $100 million over the next 10 to 15 years through the program. The motto for the campaign is “close on your home and get someone closer to home.”

Meritage, a homebuilder in Scottsdale, Ariz., was one of the first to volunteer to help raise funds. Company officials have pledged $25,000 to match every one of its buyers’ $25 contributions over the next few years. “This is a way private industry can tackle a huge social problem for our city and region,” Meritage CEO Steve Hilton told the Republic. “It’s a game-changer our community needs for affordable housing.”