Jerika Jones and her son, Ryan, smile outside their Harper Woods home after receiving home furnishings from the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan.
METRO DETROIT — People refurbishing their homes this spring might be getting rid of old furniture and replacing it with new items.
But if that old furniture is still in good shape, don’t throw it out with the trash — the nonprofit Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan can use it.
The Furniture Bank supplies families in need with essential furniture pieces, such as beds, mattresses and kitchen tables with chairs. Furniture Bank Executive Director Robert Boyle, of Grosse Pointe Woods, said demand always increases in the spring, and that’s especially true this year, with more than 100 families on a waiting list for furnishings — a figure that’s twice as high as it was only four years ago at this time.
The Furniture Bank will collect essential items in good condition from homes across metro Detroit at no charge if these items can be placed in a garage or on a porch, or they will charge a flat fee of $50 to collect any number of essentials from inside the home. Essential items include mattresses, box springs, dressers, end tables, nightstands, coffee tables, sofas and loveseats (excluding reclining sofas and sofa beds), dining room or kitchen tables (excluding glass or heavy marble), dining room or kitchen chairs (in sets of at least two), and living room chairs. The Furniture Bank will also collect as essentials up to five bags or boxes of smaller housewares, such as towels, pots, pans, silverware, lamps, bedding and other basics; the Furniture Bank cannot accept clothing. On April 1, the collection flat fee will increase to $75.
Because the need for beds, mattresses and box springs in good condition is so high, Boyle said, the Furniture Bank is currently waiving its fee to remove these items from inside a donor’s home. He estimates that they had more than 300 people waiting for mattresses at press time.
“We are one of the few charities in town that will take gently used mattresses and box springs,” Boyle said.
For essential items that are structurally damaged, stained, torn, badly worn or damaged by pets, they will haul these items away for $75 per item, whether it’s inside or outside the home.
For fees ranging from $75 to $100 per item, the Furniture Bank will also pick up nonessential items from inside or outside of homes, including desks, bookshelves, armoires, china cabinets, buffets, sofa beds, reclining sofas, entertainment centers and TV stands. Proceeds from fees support the work of the Furniture Bank and enable it to hire professional movers to safely remove furniture.
Inflation has hit everyone’s pocketbooks, but some people are better positioned to handle higher costs than others.
“Hyperinflation disproportionately affects people in need,” Boyle said.
Furniture — even used furniture — is an expense many families can’t afford.
“Buying furniture means you may not be able to pay your rent or your utility bill, so we continue to see higher levels of referrals,” Boyle said.
Of the families the Furniture Bank assists, 90% have an annual income of $20,000 or less, Boyle said. Of those families, he said 70% to 80% have household incomes of $10,000 or less. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to health and, for children, essential for learning and development as well, and adequate rest is not possible when people are sleeping on the floor.
The Furniture Bank is life changing to people like Jerika Jones, of Harper Woods, who lost everything after a divorce, the floods of 2021 and a devastating car accident — she was helping her stranded daughter on the side of the freeway last summer when an 18-wheeler slammed into their vehicle, badly injuring them both and leaving Jones unable to work. Jones and her children — two sets of fraternal twins, ages 15 and 22 — had been sleeping on air mattresses and sitting on the floor before the Furniture Bank was able to supply them with real beds and furniture. A gently used leather chaise lounge also now occupies Jones’ bedroom — it’s been ideal for her because of her back injury.
“We’re making good strides and picking up our life one day at a time,” Jones said.
In spite of multiple unfortunate incidents, Jones maintains her faith and positive attitude, grateful for things like the kitchen table and eight chairs that mean her family can gather for holiday meals and everyday time together.
“Now we’re able to be at my house, putting together a puzzle,” Jones said.
She said the furniture has helped her and her family to heal emotionally as well as physically.
“It gives us a place to come together comfortably,” Jones said.
Boyle said that, in 2022 alone, the Furniture Bank provided 2,300 families with almost 19,000 pieces of furniture, valued at a total of more than $1 million.
“There’s a huge need for what we do,” Boyle said. “(We supply) the basics that will get a family off the floor and enable them to live with some semblance of dignity.”
To donate or for more information, visit www.furniture-bank.org or call (248) 332-1300.