The Housing Choice Voucher Program, otherwise known as Section 8, assists very low income families in obtaining safe, decent, and clean housing. This is done through rent subsidies provided by Public Housing Agencies (PHA). PHAs receive their funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is up to the recipient of the housing voucher to find a landlord who is willing to participate in the program and to pay the difference between the original rent charged and what is subsidized by the PHA.
Although Section 8 assists in rent, it does not pay for household furnishings. If you do find yourself in need of some home furnishings, there a few ways in which you can obtain free and discounted furniture.
Furniture banks are country-wide organizations that donate free furniture to households in need. The furniture is acquired through donations. Families looking for furniture assistance work with furniture bank staff and other housing authorities, making sure the furniture goes to those who need it the most.
If you are looking into a furniture bank, keep in mind that you cannot contact them directly. You have to go through a housing agency that will refer you to a furniture bank location.
For a complete listing of furniture banks near you, go to The Furniture Bank Association of North America’s website.
Charitable Organizations & Second-Hand Stores
Second-hand stores are a great place to shop for discounted furniture and most of the time the items donated are in moderate to excellent quality. These items come from voluntary donations that are usually tax deductible. There are also plenty of charitable organizations that offer assistance to families in need.
1. Saint Vincent de Paul
This very well-known charitable organizations in the U.S. focuses on providing families in need with the home furnishings they require. A volunteer from the organization (called a Venetian) must first conduct a home visit before they distribute furniture.
2. Salvation Army
The Salvation Army offers a whole host of financial and social services for those who qualify. This includes vouchers to shop for furniture at one of their Furtinure Centers or Family Stores. They are a huge charitable organization, serving approximately 23 million Americans a year. Even if you do not receive a voucher, you are still free to shop for furniture at a discounted price.
Honorable Mentions: Goodwill; Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Though it may not be the most ideal way to obtain free or discounted furniture, as there may not be any store-level quality assurance, there are some sure-fire ways to find what you need through internet sales.
It may have a conflicting reputation in certain departments, but one thing is for sure: it is a great place to find free furniture.
2. FreeCycle Network
This grassroots and non-profit organization exchanges free items within community groups. Membership is free and everything that is listed must be free. This is a great resource to have in your pocket if you are able to find a nearby community.
When it comes to furniture banks and charitable organizations that require you fill out an application, don’t get discouraged if the application is denied. Work with your housing agency and remember that stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill always have discounted furniture. Reach out to local churches as well as they may have a thrift store associated with them or offer other forms of assistance.