Arizona has the fourth worst affordable housing shortage in the country for households with extremely low incomes, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) Gap report, released last month. Four Arizona banking leaders have stepped up to address the need for more affordable rental housing in the state. Bank of America, BMO Harris, FirstBank and Alliance Bank of Arizona today pledged a combined total donation of $60K to the Arizona Housing Fund, a fund created to enable the private sector to contribute to the construction and operation of affordable housing units in Arizona. Bank of America donated $25K, BMO Harris donated $25K, FirstBank donated $5K, and Alliance Bank of Arizona donated $5K. The Fund, which was founded in August 2019 by Bank of America executive Howard Epstein, and is housed at the Arizona Community Foundation, has received a total of $600K in donations thus far.
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“We have 10,000 people in our state on a list waiting for permanent housing,” says Epstein, “and that is unacceptable. My company, Bank of America, has long been committed to investing in communities by creating economic opportunities through housing, education, and job training. When I asked BMO Harris, First Bank, and Alliance Bank of Arizona to join Bank of America and be a part of the effort to fund more affordable housing in our state, they enthusiastically agreed. It’s rewarding to see so many leaders in the banking industry stepping up and being a part of the solution.”
Epstein says the Arizona Housing Fund advisory committee plans to award its first grants in 2021. Grant funding will go directly to Arizona nonprofits with a proven track record of building and operating permanent supportive, low-income, and working poor housing and help these organizations fund new projects.
“We need to act with urgency to create affordable housing solutions in Arizona,” says Benito Almanza, Arizona President for Bank of America. “This is why Bank of America is committed to doing our part to work through innovative solutions, such as Arizona Housing Fund, that will help create pathways to economic stability so our community members can achieve their full potential. A safe place to call home is foundational to our state’s recovery, and Howard’s leadership to address this massive challenge is straightforward and clear: raise funds and build more affordable housing.”
“Investing in affordable housing in our communities is always important — but even more so, given the challenges of the pandemic,” says Jason Miller, managing director at BMO Wealth Management. “We are proud to support the work the Arizona Housing Fund is doing to battle homelessness and look forward to seeing the growing impact they are making across the state.”
“This is a statewide issue that needs a statewide solution, and Arizona Housing Fund is doing just that,” says Don Garner, CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona. “This is an investment in Arizona’s families and Arizona’s future.”
“It’s great to be a part of this collective philanthropic effort of Arizona’s banking community, says Humphrey Shin, Market President at FirstBank. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with Arizona Housing Fund and helping to ensure the most vulnerable in our state have permanent homes.”