Meet Your Neighbors: Humble Design

I’ve always got my ear to the ground for novel ways that people are making an impact in their community. When I learned about Humble Design’s mission to help reduce serial homelessness, one family at a time, it really grabbed me by the heartstrings.

Families transitioning from homelessness can face a wallop of new expenses and obligations, not the least of which is furnishing a new place from scratch. This is the first nonprofit I’ve heard of that is dedicated to easing this aspect of the transition. When a local individual or family is referred for their services, Humble Design outfits their home with furniture and household goods which, according to their mission statement, “helps San Diego families with a fresh start creating ownership, dignity, and stability.”

Their website says that on average up to fifty percent of those newly transitioned from homelessness can expect to return to a shelter within a year. But with Humble Design’s assistance, that figure drops to one percent. That’s an impact right in the feels, and I can only imagine how uplifting the effect is for each of the recipients — over 1,265 families since 2009, and over 30 homes over the last eight months here in San Diego, where they furnish a home every Friday.

Humble Design was founded in Detroit by El Cajon native Treger Strasberg, now living again in the San Diego area. The company has extended their mission to include Chicago, Seattle, and of course San Diego, where communities have embraced their work eagerly. It’s easy to see why, if you check out YouTube videos of their work in action. Families opening their new front door, seeing the fully furnished space for the first time, kids bouncing on the first beds they’ve ever had … you’ll see plenty of tears in the videos, and I know I shed a few of my own.

Better yet, you can experience it in person. In addition to the essential help of sponsors, donors, and partner non-profits, Humble Design’s work relies on the generosity of volunteers, who can help with Deco Day Fridays. That’s when a team of designers and volunteers pitch in to clean, furnish, and decorate the place of a newly homed individual or family. After all the hard work, participants get to witness the unveiling and all the joy it brings.

Visit humbledesign.org for more information and to explore ways you can contribute — from donating household goods or cash to volunteering to sponsoring a family, there are lots of ways to help and feel good.