Ikea furnishes Costa Mesa homeless shelter

Ikea employees standing in what will soon be the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter’s men’s sleeping quarters.

Costa Mesa will open its first permanent homeless shelter later this month, which has been entirely furnished by Ikea Costa Mesa. 

The plan started a year-and-a-half ago when Ikea was asked by the City of Costa Mesa to furnish the Costa Mesa Bridge Center. While Ikea Costa Mesa has given back to the community, before such as donating to Project Independence and hosting the Snoopy House last year, they have never taken on a project of this magnitude before. 

“Across the world we have supported homelessness in different areas and have taken opportunities to donate bedding and towels to local shelters in our communities. But, [we] never fully furnished a full shelter,” said Vanessa Pasillas, loyalty manager at Ikea Costa Mesa. “So this is the first time any Ikea has done this.”

The 72-bed facility, located by John Wayne Airport, will function as a 24-hour shelter that also provides in-house services such as mental health care. Ikea has donated about $84,000 worth of furniture to the shelter. Construction is due to be finished this week, and is expected to start accepting people by the end of this month.

“The friends will stay here and won’t actually have to leave early [in the] morning and come back, which is really nice because a lot of services are going to be brought here,” Pasillas said. “And the city is obviously working with places like Hoag (Hospital) and things like that to provide social services to the building.”

The shelter will also allow people to bring their pets. It has an outdoor section where pets are able to stay, also furnished by Ikea.

“We’re going to be donating some of our pet line – beds, leashes, collars – to help them with that,” said Sandra Perez, an interior design coworker at Ikea Costa Mesa. “That’s really exciting because there’s a good ratio of people with pets who can’t go to certain shelters because of that.” 

Ikea workers haven’t been the only ones working on this project. Nonprofit organization Trellis has been helping with unpacking and placing furniture, as well as keeping spaces clear so construction workers can work efficiently. The religious nonprofit focuses on issues such as homelessness and education, and also holds events for their Neighboring Network, which focuses on helping the local community, and their Prayer Army, which is a group that encourages praying for issues in the area.

“We have a handful of Trellis volunteers throughout the coming days as well, providing extra hands for either building, or helping us break down boxes and things like that,” Pasillas said. “We’re hoping the builders don’t have to [break down boxes] so they can sort of keep going.”

Last week was dedicated to building and implementing, such as having furniture unpacked and put together. This week, they’re finishing up the final touches to the interior, such as furniture placement, shelving and decor.

“We have more interior design co-workers and visual merchandisers coming in, as well as our graphics to come and implement some final touches,”  Perez said. “So the goal is to be done by Friday.”

The interior design team has been working on creating inspiring graphics consisting of historical photos of Costa Mesa, as well as images with quotes from Ikea’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad. Those will also be going up this week as one of the final touches.

“It’s really exciting because it’s like a piece of Ikea will be here forever,” Pasillas said.

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