Photo by yann maignan on Unsplash

With the global pandemic and the digital age prompting many organisations to downsize or move offices, the Property Industry Foundation has set up a new program where surplus furniture is collected and sold, and proceeds donated to homeless youth.

The Property Industry Foundation Furniture Fund aims to make furniture removal easy, sustainable and socially just, allowing the property and construction industry to make a difference to the lives of homeless youth by donating its unwanted furniture.

Organisations can get in touch with the foundation about any of its surplus furniture and removalist partner Egans will assess the value of the items in question. It will then be resold or repurposed, with the items with no value broken down and recycled. Only about 5 per cent of items collected are sent to landfill.

The earnings will then be donated to the PIF, which will use all of it to build homes for at-risk youth.

Priscilla Heathwood, head of fundraising for PIF Victoria, said the goal is to increase the availability of transitional housing for homeless youth.

“And because of the unique nature of the PIF House program, we are able to use the expertise and building capability of the property and construction industry to build a home for significantly lower costs,” Heathwood added.

“A 6 bedroom transitional home will usually cost around $600k, but through the program we are able to deliver this for $300k or less, thanks to the kind donations of labour and goods from the industry.

“Over a lifetime, these houses help hundreds of children and young people to get a second chance.”

The initiative was initially used at 2 Riverside Quay, Victoria, which is co-owned by Mirvac and ISPT, following a refurbishment of some floors.

The furniture removed was resold and recycled, with limited residual material put to landfill. The furniture capable of being resold was then purchased from the co-owners and a sizable donation was made to PIF.

“We saw an opportunity to divert waste from landfill and have a positive social impact at the same time,” said Andrew Borley, Mirvac asset manager, and the man behind the PIF Furniture Fund.

“We had a vacant tenancy, which was left fully furnished by the previous tenant. PIF and Egans attended the site, created an inventory of all items, and also then removed the items.

“Based on the assessment of the residual value of the furniture, we auctioned the furniture and managed to raise over $33,000, which was then donated to the Furniture Fund.”

The money raised was used to help build a transitional house in Toongabbie, Sydney, for homeless youth, which was completed in December last year.

“We were excited to work with PIF to help establish the initiative and help roll it out across the property industry, firstly utilising our own portfolio,” added Alicia Maynard, general manager, sustainability & technical services at ISPT.

“We also plan to rollout this initiative on other assets – one upcoming whole-of-building refurbishment we plan to pilot this model on would see nearly 6500 chairs and 1200 desks avoid landfill.”