> CHICAGO FURNITURE BANK
TURNING HOUSES INTO HOMES SINCE 2018
TURNING HOUSES INTO HOMES SINCE 2018
The mission of the Chicago Furniture Bank (CFB) is to provide dignity, stability, and comfort to Chicagoans facing poverty by allowing our clients to handpick an entire home’s worth of furnishings for free. As the country’s largest furniture bank, we furnish 15 client homes per day through partnerships with our 400+ social service agencies. Since beginning operations in 2018, CFB has served more than 17,300 individuals and furnished 7,500 homes – with more than 97% of those clients living below the poverty line and 45% being children.
While Chicago’s homeless population remains at an alarmingly high rate, research has shown that home retention rates can increase by up to 50% for those who live in a furnished home. When households leave temporary shelters and move into permanent housing, they do not have many, if any, belongings. The agencies that find this housing do not have the logistical infrastructure, movers or warehouse space to provide furnishings, and as such, households live in empty spaces for extended periods of time or even indefinitely. Our streamlined furniture program helps stabilize households that are beginning a new chapter in their lives, as four walls and roof alone don’t make a home.
" We believe everyone should be able to sleep in a bed, share a meal at a kitchen table, and enjoy the comfort of a furnished home.”- Andrew Witherspoon and Griffin Amdur, CFB Co-Founders
CFB serves both families and individuals. Our clients range from those who’re formerly homeless, to veterans, victims of domestic abuse, the mentally and physically disabled, recovering addicts, and other
populations facing socio-economic hardships. We furnish homes across all of Cook Country and the surrounding Chicagoland area, however, the vast majority of our clients reside on the South and West side of Chicago.
In addition to tackling furniture poverty, CFB has found other innovative ways to help service our community at large. In February of 2020, CFB launched its sister nonprofit, Honest Junk Company (HJ). Honest Junk is the country’s second nonprofit junk removal service. What distinguishes HJ from other for-profit haulers is that 100% of usable items collected at pickup are diverted from landfills, donated, and repurposed by one of our partner charities. We give well-treated items such as furniture, books, clothes, toys, and more another chance to make someone happy in a new home. In 2021, CFB was recognized by the Chicago Innovation Awards and won the Wintrust Chicago neighborhood prize for the creation of Honest Junk Company.
" Now I don’t have to worry about my children feeling like their house is empty. I can save that money and put it towards food and rent.”- Juanita S., Metropolitan Family Services
Furniture is the number-one least recycled household item, resulting in a whopping 12 million tons of it ending up in landfills annually. Through collecting furniture donations, CFB and HJ aim to reduce rapid landfill expansion by diverting over 5000 tons of furniture annually. Through diverting these materials from landfills, both organizations leave a positive impact on the environment.
Furthermore, CFB hires from the same communities that its set out to help. Approximately 50% of our staff are outsourced and hired from our partner workforce development agencies. Considering our 15 daily appointments and having to operate 12 trucks a day, our team has grown to 52-full time employees – with 44 of those employees being drivers, movers, and warehouse workers. In 2021, we increased our staff by 45% and the number of homes we’ve furnished by 79% (3,300 homes).
At the very least, furniture poverty affects one’s quality of life; at worst, it becomes a contributing factor to social exclusion, physical and mental distress, and a return to homelessness. The CFB’s main goal is to continue growing its capacity in order to furnish even more homes on a day-to-day basis. By investing in additional trucks, staff, and training, we will be one step closer towards being able to furnish 5000 homes annually by 2024 and achieve our mission of ending furniture poverty.
CHICAGO FURNITURE BANK