House 2 Home Network

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House 2 Home Network is a virtual furniture bank housed at Whatcom Volunteer Center in Bellingham, Washington. House 2 Home Network is unique because there is no physical warehouse. Instead, donors store items until they are needed. According to the National Furniture Bank Association, it is the only virtual model in the United States.[1]

House 2 Home Network serves people who were recently homeless and acquired housing through housing case management. House 2 Home Network is unique because it does not have a warehouse – instead, volunteers pick items up from donors and deliver them to customers’ new homes.

The House 2 Home Network made its first delivery on September 3, 2009.[2] In April 2010, House 2 Home Network became the first virtual furniture bank to join the National Furniture Bank Association. On May 18, 2010 House 2 Home Network received a $5,000 grant from Whatcom Community Foundation to continue expanding the program.

In June 2010 the House 2 Home Network successfully completed deliveries to 100 unduplicated households. This was the program's one-year goal and it was reached in only seven months.

History[edit]

House 2 Home Network is a collaborative effort by Whatcom Volunteer Center and Whatcom Homeless Service Center. The Opportunity Council provided start-up funds for the House 2 Home Network. An American Recovery and Reinvestment Act AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer was recruited to coordinate the program.

House 2 Home Network addresses some of the basic needs of the Housing First model. With rapid re-housing as a focus, Housing First was initiated to get people who were homeless into permanent, affordable housing. As people enter housing, issues such as mental illness and substance abuse are addressed through wrap-around case management services. Many people who are homeless enter housing without furniture or household goods. Before the creation of House 2 Home, recently housed families and individuals had to rely on social and familial networks to borrow or purchase furniture or buy it second-hand at Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other thrift stores. Even at second-hand rates, the costs associated with furnishing an entire household are beyond the means for most families living on public benefits. House 2 Home Network removes the costs associated with furnishing a home by bringing donated furniture to the homes of people who have recently been housed.

House 2 Home Network has several partnering agencies in Whatcom County that make the program possible.

Philosophy[edit]

House 2 Home Network was founded on the principal of Just-In-Time inventory management. This philosophy views maintaining inventory as a wasteful practice because it requires a physical warehouse, staffing, and management. House 2 Home Network maintains no warehouse and is operated by volunteers, significantly driving operating costs down.

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