The Friese Foundation is proud to work with organizations that help groups vulnerable to homelessness find the support they need to build stable lives. A Sense of Home is one of those organizations. Its mission to prevent former foster children from becoming homeless aligns seamlessly with the goals of the Friese Foundation.
Former foster kids represent a whopping 50% of the homeless population in the United States. This is a national humanitarian crisis that must be addressed.
Each year, approximately 20% of foster children immediately become homeless once they have aged out of the system, around age 18 to 21. Within a year and a half of emancipation, around 40-50% of former foster children are homeless. These statistics are alarming but not altogether surprising. Today, many young people increasingly live with their parents well into their 20s because they cannot afford to live on their own. Foster children have no such safety net—they’re on their own when they age out of the system and have to secure housing for themselves.
The best way to prevent former foster kids from becoming homeless early in adulthood is to give them a stable start. A Sense of Home works toward this goal by providing newly emancipated foster children with the resources they need to begin their new lives as independent adults.
Over the past five years, A Sense of Home has helped more than 1,500 young adults and children in the Los Angeles area avoid homelessness.
A Sense of Home provides these young people with donated and upcycled furniture and home goods for their first-ever homes. To date, the organization has outfitted more than 700 homes, helping these young adults build a stable foundation for adulthood. By doing so, A Sense of Home’s unique model addresses two of the nation’s most troubling crises—homelessness and environmental destruction.
According to the Neuroscience Institute, both adults and children are measurably more productive and better able to process information when they have an organized, secure home environment. Many former foster youths struggle to afford basic furniture, which contributes to feelings of instability and impermanence. Former foster youth who struggle with this basic need often slip into homelessness because a bare shelter does not provide a dignified, secure environment. A Sense of Home’s model prevents the slide into homelessness by providing newly emancipated young adults with safe, furnished homes and the stability they need to find and keep jobs to support themselves.
This model also crucially addresses the problem of serviceable furniture winding up in landfills. Though there is a great need for useable secondhand furniture, unwanted furniture and home goods are often left on the curb for trash trucks. This represents a huge environmental waste. A Sense of Home upcycles these goods and donates them to former foster youth struggling to furnish their first homes.
Donated goods are sent to the A Sense of Home warehouse in Los Angeles. Volunteers then work with recipients to get an idea of their personal tastes. These volunteers then visit the warehouse and find furniture and decor that matches the recipient’s needs and style. In just 90 minutes, formerly empty houses are transformed into fully furnished homes.
Over the past five years, A Sense of Home has become a leading organization in fighting homelessness. Their model has been proven by the numbers:
● 75% of beneficiaries report feeling financially secure
● Over 99% of beneficiaries have maintained their sense of home
● 100% of beneficiaries report feeling hopeful for their futures
● 100% of beneficiaries report feeling confident that they can succeed
● 100% of beneficiaries feel they have what they need to deal with life’s challenges
A Sense of Home plans to double its impact in the Los Angeles area and expand to 25 cities across the country over the next five years, which will operate identically to the original Los Angeles chapter. A Sense of Home additionally hopes to establish a global network for fighting homelessness by licensing its model to non-government organization (NGO) that assist homeless or displaced individuals, anywhere in the world.
The plan is to scale up globally over the course of the next five years:
● 10 NGOs in year 1
● 50 NGOs in year 2
● 100 NGOs in year 3
● 200 NGOs in year 4
● 500 NGOs in year 5
According to the organization’s conservative estimates, the end result of this project could be more than 100,000 individuals served, over 400,000 volunteers, and over 31,000 new homes created.