FORT WORTH, Texas — The Tarrant County Furniture Bank celebrated its grand opening, and now they are ready to get to business — by distributing furniture for free.

The facility is the first of its kind in Fort Worth. It is a non-profit which will offer the recently-homeless access to gently used furniture pieces and new mattresses at no cost to themselves.

"I think there is such a need in Fort Worth that our turnover rate [for furniture] is going to be very high," said Teresa Huskey, founder and executive director of the furniture bank.

Huskey is a substitute school teacher who was inspired to start the furniture bank after her own brush with homelessness. She said a few years ago, she was laid off from her job and had to sell her house. She relied on help from friends and family to get by, but through that experience, she learned of the struggles so many face with furniture.

Often, homeless people who are able to get permanent housing may not have any furnishings to create a home.  

"I've heard stories of individuals who are still sleeping in tents in their new home. They're still sleeping on the floor. They have upside-down cardboard boxes for a table and no sofa to sit on," Huskey said.

The bank is stocked with all those pieces, and now that it is open, it will accept referrals from social workers who arrange an appointment for clients to come and select their own pieces. They can pick them up or have them delivered to their new housing. And Huskey believes the bank will provide far more to its clients than just furnishings.

"Dignity. I think it comes down to dignity," she said.

The furniture bank operates thanks to donations, as federal funds for homelessness may not be used for furniture.

To donate or learn more about the furniture bank, visit their website.

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