Staying Home with Essential Furniture During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Had we not had this furniture during the pandemic, I don’t know what we would have done. Things would have been a lot worse.

For 27 years, through historic floods and economic downturns, Houston Furniture Bank has helped Houstonians get the furniture they need to turn empty houses into homes. On March 24th, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, along with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a mandatory “Stay Home, Work Safe” order to preserve public health and safety during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Houston Furniture Bank has proudly continued to serve our neighbors in need during this time. With so many Houstonians losing their incomes, and so many families staying home to stop the spread of the virus, “essential furniture” has never been a more accurate term.

Furniture assistance looks a little different these days. Houston Furniture Bank has implemented a number of measures to keep staff, clients, and the community safe while continuing to connect families with much-needed furniture. Those who do come to the Distribution Center are observing physical distance, washing hands, and wearing masks. Many more are making their selections by phone or video conferencing. Despite the changes, Houston Furniture Bank has distributed over 1,000 pieces of furniture to families in need since the Stay Home, Work Safe order went into effect.

The families receiving this furniture are facing unprecedented challenges. Thanks to the work of our team and the continued support of our community, they are now able to stay home comfortably, with the furniture that is essential for healthy home life. With so much uncertainty and despair, we are all in need of some good news. To that end, it is our pleasure to highlight some of our clients’ recent experiences with receiving furniture assistance from Houston Furniture Bank during the Stay Home, Work Safe Order. To protect the privacy of our clients, their names have been changed. 

FAMILIES STAYING HOME

Emily is a single mother with a 15-year-old daughter. On April 1st of 2020, she was furloughed from her job at a local retail store because of the coronavirus. Like so many Houstonians, Emily was distraught and didn’t know how she was going to support her family.

I was very upset when I got the call. I don’t know when I’ll go back to work. I bought a bed for my daughter from my store because I got a discount. I was planning on buying other furniture too but then I got laid off. My company has stopped their deliveries so my daughter’s bed was never delivered. We have been sleeping on air mattresses.

While many retail stores have stopped their deliveries, Houston Furniture Bank continues to offer delivery to those who need it. The combined stress of losing your job while living without essential furniture during a pandemic is unimaginable. Now that Emily and her daughter have furniture for their home, she has one less thing to worry about.

Thanks to your delivery guys, I am sleeping on a sofa bed instead of the floor. I have many things on my mind right now. I don’t know how I will pay my bills, I am worried about my teenage daughter. There is so much on my mind, and this is one less thing. The furniture I received from [Houston Furniture Bank] is a tremendous help.

STARTING OVER AFTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Since the “Stay Home, Work Safe Order” was put in place, over 20% of Houston Furniture Bank’s appointments have been for survivors of domestic abuse. We spoke to a number of families who are staying home safely, now with furniture provided by Houston Furniture Bank.

Fleeing an abusive partner, Makala and her two sons alternated between living in a hotel room and staying with friends for eight months. At one point, the family was staying with a friend whose home was under construction. “We had running water, electricity, and a mini-fridge,” she recalled, “but that was pretty much it. We were sleeping on a pallet on the floor.” Makala works as a nurse’s assistant. Now, more than ever, she needs a good night’s rest so that she can stay healthy for herself, her family and the community she serves.

Today Makala’s family has an apartment of their own and everyone has a bed. She said it is hard for her boys to share their emotions, but she could tell they were happy when they got their new beds. “To have a new mattress is a huge deal,” she said. “I feel like I can finally breathe. As a mom, you worry about stuff that impacts your kids. I wanted to make this past transition easier for them, and these beds were a blessing.”

Kristin fled an abusive relationship with her four young children. Starting over, she was able to connect with a local women’s shelter which helped her family find a new home. To furnish that home, Kristin’s caseworker brought her to Houston Furniture Bank. Kristin and her children had alternated between sharing a single twin bed and sleeping on air mattresses. Today, each family member has a bed of their own. At Houston Furniture Bank, the family selected a twin mattress set, a queen mattress set, a couch, and a TV stand.  “Now we all have a place to sleep and watch TV together,” said Kristin. “Even my two youngest have a bed, which is a huge relief.” For this family, Furniture Assistance came at a crucial time. “Had we not had this furniture during the pandemic,” said Kristin, “I don’t know what we would have done. Things would have been a lot worse.”

RELIEF FOR FAMILIES

Houston Furniture Bank is proud to continue serving our clients during this stressful time. When we ask our clients how their new furniture has impacted them, the word we hear most often is “relief.” They feel relief from the burden of stress and worry, relief from sleepless nights, and relief to have one of their most basic needs met. Here are some quotes that show the impact that Furniture Assistance has had for these families:

My 13-year-old son and I were sharing a bed before we got our furniture. We would take turns sleeping on the bed or sleeping on the couch. Now, we each have our own bed, which is a huge stress release. – Melissa

I have two couches and my own bed! I can finally relax. – Annie

I am more relaxed now that I have my own furniture. It feels a lot more healthy than when I was sleeping on the floor. – Brenda

My kids are happy, which makes me happy. I am just so happy and grateful. This is the best we’ve gotten in a long time. – Janelle

TEAM HOUSTON

Houston Furniture Bank is able to provide Furniture Assistance because of the continued support of the Houston community. In 2019, the Furniture Distribution Center gave away over 16,473 pieces of furniture. You can help Houston Furniture Bank make empty houses homes during the coronavirus pandemic by donating your gently-used furniture. Your donation will mean the world to a child or individual in need. You can also help Houston Furniture Bank by making a donation to our #NoKidsOnTheFloor! program. Every $150 donated allows us to give away a bed set to a child in need. Currently, we are serving over 75 children each month, thanks to your generosity.

As we navigate these uncertain times, the stability and comfort of a furnished home should not be underestimated. We would like to thank our partners and caseworkers who continue to serve Houstonians by connecting them with Furniture Assistance. Together, we are able to connect families with life-changing furniture so that no child or individual sleeps on the floor during a pandemic. Houston Furniture Bank continues to assist vulnerable families in their transition to stability because we know that the work we do has a direct impact on our city and its people.

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