• Mission: The Bay Area Furniture Bank recycles gently used furniture and provides it to individuals and families moving out of homelessness, as well as to other underserved residents as they work to make ends meet. The nonprofit organization aims to promote dignity and stability as people in need get back on their feet.
Los Altos resident Ray Piontek, a U.S. Navy veteran and retired business executive, founded the Furniture Bank in 2015. Piontek developed a successful business model, with more than 97% of revenue generated directly supporting client services.
• 2019 update: The Furniture Bank underwent a substantial expansion this year – relocating from its 2,600-square-foot storage space at Foothill College to a 40,000-square-foot storage facility provided by Google Inc. – that enabled it to continue its rapid growth. The Furniture Bank served 18 families per month during its first year of operation; it now serves 50-plus families per month.
According to Piontek, the Furniture Bank is working in collaboration with a list of more than 90 social services agencies and organizations to supply furniture and household goods to families living in empty apartments. More than 80% of the families the organization and its affiliates serve are transitioning out of homelessness, and all are low income.
Piontek estimates that 98% of the time the Furniture Bank delivers furnishings in less than five business days from the date a case worker submits a request form. In 2020, he anticipates that the Furniture Bank will serve at least 70 to 80 families per month.
The Furniture Bank partnered with local hotels and dorms this fiscal year to collect recycled items, with donors including Extended Stay America and The Inn at Saratoga. Stanford University contributed furniture from dorms renovated last summer, donating more than 500 mattresses, 800 dressers, 600 chairs, 75 desks and 150 sofas.
In addition, for the third year in a row, Furniture Bank workers repurposed more than 50 tons of furniture that was set to go to landfills.
“The stories of those that Bay Area Furniture Bank serves are varied and diverse,” Piontek said in an email to the Town Crier. “They include families, individuals, elders, and young people just starting out in life or those having suffered personal tragedy. They are often veterans, foster children who have aged out of the program, women and children escaping abusive situations and refugees.”
• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: The dramatic growth of the Bay Area Furniture Bank is a direct result of the growing number of people who are living in empty homes and apartments and previously were living and sleeping in their cars, on the floor or on someone else’s sofa.
Bay Area Furniture Bank
Location: PO Box 61042, Sunnyvale 94088
Annual budget: $316,993
Staff: 5 employees, 9 volunteers