Make It Home Bay Area
Turning Housing into Homes with Repurposed Furniture and Love
Bay Area social services agencies work tirelessly to find housing for families and individuals struggling with homelessness, but these spaces are often sparce, with little furniture or comfort items. Bay Area nonprofit, Make It Home Bay Area, turns empty housing into comfortable living spaces with donated, gently used furnishings and household goods. “Most of the folks who finally get a place of their own don’t have money to buy furniture,” says Make It Home founder Carolyn Flannery. “But it’s not just a basic need—a fully functional and inviting home also gives people a sense of security, stability, and self-confidence that is critical to a successful transition.”
Founded in January 2021, the nonprofit sets up some 50 homes each month, including furniture, bedding, rugs, curtains, wall hangings, kitchen supplies, and even cleaning kits. Most of the items are pre-owned from individuals across the Bay Area that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. Donations also come from businesses like home staging companies, whose furnishings are often in like-new condition. Other donations that need a little help before they meet Make It Home’s high standards are restored and refurbished by the nonprofit’s community of volunteers.
Make It Home works closely with social services agencies whose case workers alert Flannery and her team when they have found housing for a client, sharing as much information as possible. “These details help us curate each home for its future tenants with matching furniture, decorations and sometimes even toys,” says Flannery. “A home for a family will look different than a studio for a youth aging out of foster care,” she adds.
One of the biggest expenses for Make It Home is the cost of transporting the curated shipments of furniture from the warehouse in San Rafael to housing sites throughout the Bay Area. However, for deliveries in Alameda County relief is in sight: With a $20,000 Reuse & Repair grant from StopWaste, Make It Home has secured a new furniture donation site in the Easy Bay and hired an additional staff member to manage logistics. Flannery projects that with a warehouse closer to Alameda County donors and clients, they will be able to dramatically increase the amount of furniture rescued and put to good use locally.