Where do people go when they can’t afford furniture?
In Chicago, there’s a remarkable organization called the Chicago Furniture Bank (CFB). And it helps individuals and families who are transitioning out of homeless.
In their own words, “CFB breaks the cycle of furniture poverty by transforming an empty house into a home” through providing folks with high quality used furniture.
In the Fall of 2022, DCI was lucky enough to partner with CFB and donate over 100 beds worth more than $50,000 to their cause.
According to their website, CFB is the largest furniture bank in the country, servicing three states and furnishing, on average, 3,500 homes a year.
As of November, when DCI made our donation, they had furnished over 10,000 homes, serving more than 21,000 Chicagoans.
Indeed, by the time we partnered with them, CFB had given away 12 million pounds of furniture that might have otherwise burdened the landfill. Instead, that furniture got a second life and helped make a home for the previously homeless.
Who does CFB Serve?
Who exactly does CFB work with and how do they learn about CFB’s services? The Furniture bank does not offer their furniture to the general public. Rather, they partner with over 400 nonprofits in Chicago that serve individuals facing one of the following issues:
- Extreme poverty
- Domestic violence
- Mental illness or addiction
- Physical or mental disabilities
- Personal and natural catastrophes
Through these nonprofits, individuals can secure a referral to CFB for an appointed time. These clients then visit CFB’s warehouse and handpick their personalized furniture package. CFB offers delivery to ensure that individuals and families without transportation can still benefit.
DCI End of Life Furniture Program
At DCI, we have a robust end of life furniture program. Often, we work with our university customers to find a new home or a second life for the furniture we’re replacing. DCI will resell it, donate it to Habitat ReStore, strip it down and repurpose it for internal components to use in new furniture, or we’ll recycle it.
Of course, that’s much easier when the furniture is made from solid wood, because it’s recyclable, reclaimable, it can be refinished, and it is more durable than MDF and particle board furniture.
Recently, Duke University was in touch with us and asked if we could replace and repurpose a large stock of Mission Style full size solid wood beds. We removed the beds from Duke’s campus, and then we contacted the team at CFB.
Partnering with CFB
When we told them that we had 100 beds available in great condition, they leapt at the opportunity. We packed up the beds and they took care of the shipping.
After receiving DCI’s donation, Griffin Amdur, CFB’s cofounder, said:
The Chicago Furniture Bank’s (CFB) mission is to provide dignity, stability, and comfort to Chicagoans facing poverty by allowing our clients to handpick an entire home’s worth of furniture for free. The CFB furnishes roughly 15 homes a day and one of the most important parts of the furnishing package is providing beds to each family member. Thanks to DCI’s donation, many more families will be able to sleep in great beds.
CFB accepts furniture from almost all sources. Individuals, organizations, and businesses can all donate. However, CFB doesn’t just accept any furniture. They apply rigorous vetting criteria to donated furniture, ensuring that it provides their clients with a sense of dignity.
As part of our mission at DCI, we try to work with underserved and vulnerable communities. That’s why we’re a member of New Hampshire’s Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative. It’s why we donate furniture to homeless student shelters and transitional housing initiatives for folks in recovery.
Partnering with CFB is another chance for us to support vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. DCI owner and Vice President, David Kober said:
I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to work with the Chicago Furniture Bank and that our furniture is having a second life with this kind of impact. I enjoyed working with the CFB team, and they were extremely thankful for the donation and handled all the logistics professionally. The beds are in great shape, and it’s inspiring to see them providing dignity and comfort to Chicago families who are facing homelessness. I look forward to our next opportunity to work together.
To learn more about CFB and their work, please visit their website at: https://www.chicagofurniturebank.org/