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AZ Central reports that the state of Arizona is now asking new homeowners to kick in $25 to help combat homelessness, The Arizona Housing Fund is looking for help from home buyers at the closing table while also reaching out to home builders and real-estate agents. “Too many people are stuck because there is a shortage of safe, decent, affordable housing,” said Howard Epstein, a board member of the nonprofit Arizona Housing Inc. and an executive with Bank of America.

Epstein came up with the grassroots effort to ask the real-estate industry to help fund a solution to the problem. He hopes it could raise $100 million in the next 10 to 15 years. The average escrow and closing costs in metro Phoenix are about $3,200, according to financial research firm SmartAsset.

Scottsdale-based Meritage is the first homebuilder to volunteer for the fund. It has set aside $25,000 to match every one of its Arizona homebuyers' $25 contributions for a few years.

“This is a way private industry can tackle a huge social problem for our city and region,” said Steve Hilton, CEO of Meritage. “It’s a game changer our community needs for affordable housing.” He’s challenging other Arizona homebuilders to do the same.

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