A critical component to reducing homelessness in the state of Arizona is to build more Permanent Supportive Housing (“PSH”) and Low-Income housing.  Today, there are over 10,000 Arizonans searching for permanent housing who are either currently living in emergency shelters, transitional shelters or worse, living unsheltered.  The existing inventory of PSH around our state is always 100% full and often with waiting lists as long as six months.

The biggest challenge for the non-profits who build and manage PSH properties is acquiring the funds necessary to bring new inventory to our communities.  The creative and unique solution to this problem is the Arizona Housing Fund (“AZHF”).  The AZHF is a private sector, philanthropic approach to battling homelessness which we believe could be the model for the other 49 states.

The AZHF, created in 2019, has no overhead costs so 100% of every dollar in the fund goes directly to the qualifying nonprofits.  The fund and its grants proposal process are managed by the Arizona Community Foundation (“ACF”).  The AZHF is a dedicated and sustainable revenue source that grants funding to those nonprofit agencies that successfully build and operate PSH, Low-Income and Working Poor Housing.  Our Equity grants will enable more housing units to be constructed, meeting the growing needs of our communities in Arizona with the goal of reducing homelessness.  Examples of nonprofits who might benefit from the AZHF include: UMOM, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Save the Family, St. Vincent De Paul, CPLC and U.S. Veterans Initiative.

The AZHF has an established Advisory Committee that will identify potential grant recipients, review grant proposals and recommend grant awards to the ACF.  The AZHF Advisory Committee is comprised of the following seven community leaders:  Howard Epstein – National Executive at Bank of America, Elisa de le Vera – Chief Community Officer at ACF, Steven Hilton – Chairman and CEO of Meritage Homes Corporation, Tim Sprague – Principal of Habitat Metro, Kathy Rosenzweig – community philanthropist, Michael Trailor – State of AZ Homeless Manager –Arizona Governor’s office and Michelle Lind – CEO of the Arizona Association of Realtors.

In addition to traditional directed donations from individuals, families, foundations and government, revenue is generated to the fund through the voluntary “Escrow Donation Program”.  Our goal is to give every buyer and seller of a home in the state of Arizona, the opportunity to donate $25 (or more) to the AZHF.  A simple one-page sheet, the Escrow Donation Form (part of the sales and escrow package at closing), directs the Escrow Company to collect and distribute the donations to the AZHF.

Our goal of raising $10 million a year will result in AZHF’s equity grants delivering thousands of urgently needed new residential units.  When the Escrow Donation Program is available to every buyer and seller in Arizona, along with potential matching donations from Realtors, lenders and title companies – we believe the caring citizens in our state will donate to the AZHF and change the trajectory of homelessness in Arizona now and for decades to come.

The list of companies, organizations, law firms and elected officials who are publicly supporting the AZHF is extensive and growing every week.  Builders like Meritage Homes, residential brokers like North & Co. and escrow companies like Pioneer Title are already participating in the program.

AZHF also has the support of organizations like the Arizona Association of Realtors, the Home Builders Association of Arizona and the Arizona Housing Coalition; companies like DMB, Sunbelt Holdings and Meritage Homes; law firms like Gammage & Burnham and Snell & Wilmer; and elected officials like Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. We expect many others to join in 2020.  Ultimately, we want this program to be a standard offering with every closing in our State.

Arizona is leading the way with this creative solution – the Arizona Housing Fund.  This unique approach, bringing the entire state together to solve a very complex and urgent problem should make every citizen proud to live in Arizona.

For more information about AHF, go to:  https://arizonahousingfund.org/

To download the escrow donation toolkit, go to:  https://arizonahousingfund.org/join-us/