Help Us Support Houses into Homes at the 2019 Home Show

It started with one boy and one bed. Lucy Barker and Salina McCarty saw a viral video of a Detroit boy receiving his first bed after living in homelessness. The video inspired them to help struggling Iowa City families. Soon after, Houses into Homes was born.

Barker and McCarty, co-directors of the non-profit organization, recognized a gap in the community. Organizations that furnished beds and furniture to local families were limited to providing resources to their own clients. Additionally, Iowa City second-hand stores no longer accepted used mattresses, and as a result, many were sent to the landfill.


Supporting Families in Need

As volunteers with the Iowa City Community School District, Barker and McCarty had both heard stories from students. They were tired from lack of sleep and struggling in school because of it. Many were co-sleeping with parents or siblings, sleeping on the floor, or sharing a rotating bed schedule with siblings. Their families were sometimes living in completely empty homes without beds or furniture for months at a time.

“The burden most families bear is that they have to spend so much energy, time, and money on acquiring basic needs as they are rebuilding that they are exhausted when it comes time to try to focus on and enjoy the parts of life beyond basic necessities,” McCarty said.

Houses into Homes has provided 213 beds to local families and saved 5,000 cubic feet of mattresses and box springs from the landfill in its first year. Its mission is to provide beds, furniture, and other household goods to families and individuals in need or transitioning out of homelessness. For McCarty, one of the most rewarding parts of this journey is knowing Iowa City families won’t have to sleep on the floor at night.

“This fall we delivered to a family living in an apartment with one rolling desk chair, a tiny desk, and one Aerobed. They had three school-age boys living in the home, plus mom and dad. I chatted with the kids for quite a while and found they had been living in their apartment for five months.

The fifth-grade son talked to me about the difficulties of doing homework at home with nowhere to sit comfortably. The three boys said it was really hard to sleep both on the air bed and the floor, and they were uncomfortable and crowded when they had to share the bed.”

Houses into Homes fully furnished the family’s home. They provided living room furniture, a dining tables and chairs, and beds for the entire family.


Houses into Homes by the Numbers

  • 213 beds given in year one
  • More than 400 families housed through DVIP and Shelter House each year in Johnson County
  • 243 children served since February 2018 (200 were school-age children)
  • 5,000 cubic feet of mattresses and box springs kept out of the landfill
  • 20 mattresses delivered to 9 households in an average week
  • 10-15 families on the waiting list for beds and furniture (on average)



How You Can Help

Urban Acres will be supporting Houses into Homes at the 2019 Home Show on February 8-10 to help make dreams come true for Iowa City area families. For every person who stops by our booth, posts a photo to Twitter or Instagram, and tags it with #MyUADreamHome, Urban Acres will donate $1 to Houses into Homes.

Houses into Homes accepts generous donations from the community. Requested donation items include furniture, blankets and linens, kitchen utensils, small appliances and electronics, and other miscellaneous household items. The organization also needs volunteers to assist during deliveries, pick up donations, and help organize donated items.

McCarty says community involvement is essential to the organization’s success. She considers herself fortunate to give back to such a caring community.

“Houses into Homes works so wonderfully because as Lucy and I suspected, there is no shortage of stuff or generosity.”

Mark your calendar for the 2019 Home Show, and visit to learn more about how you can help Urban Acres make an impact.

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