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Giving Away Free Furnature May Get You In Trouble And Fined!

Putting furniture out in front of your apartment or foreclosed home free for others to take may get you fined! Talk about adding insult to injury. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

These days you can find tons of perfectly good furniture for sale dirt-cheap or free in front of the thousands of foreclosure homes during this depression that is being “fluffed-off” as a “double or triple dip recession” (depending on which cable news channel you watch). Many of us will put a perfectly good end table, recliner, etc. near the curb with a sign that says, “Free!”. What many of us call “Freecycling”, may get those of us who are just trying to help out neighbors in trouble and fined!

I can recall my apartment being furnished with free chairs, sofas, tables, microwaves, heck… almost everything but the TV was found with a free sign on it during my college years.  I think the only thing that was NOT something I got either from the front yard of a home in a nice neighborhood or Goodwill was my TV and bed.  That’s how many bachelors and bachelorettes furnish our first place.

Well according to a story from a friend and reconfirmed by another, I decided to talk to a 36 year old Cascade man who was trying to get rid of some of his furniture due to his bank foreclosing on his home.  He was fined $100 by the garbage police for putting a nice but used dresser at the side of the road with a big sign that read “FREE” last Sunday in his upscale neighborhood because it was not a scheduled sanitation pickup day.

During a phone conversation, Chris Schultz says,

“I feel like the system of putting furniture on the street for others is a deep-rooted part of many communities,” Schultz  said. “If I had a heap of smelly trash that was out there for days, I might be more sympathetic to the township. However, this is cutting into a system that recycles goods and helps those who have less.”

Schultz says he will pay the fine, but added,

“that doesn’t mean that it’s a good law or one that is truly serving the people”
I think it’s time for a serious gut-check here.  Should this guy have been fined?  I know I am guilty of leaving tables, chairs, a bunk bed frame and even a clean used microwave outside my apartments and rental houses in the past.  NOT because I was too lazy to take it to a resale shop or the dump, but because it was good stuff, in good clean order and I knew it could help out one of my neighbors.  It was all taken by people in my neighborhood and I even got a “thank you” from a couple folks.
I would love to know your thoughts on this.  I’m really surprised this enforcement method would happen here in the Grand Rapids area or anywhere else in the state of Michigan due to the extremely poor economy.  My thought is that it’s just sad that someone gets a $100 fine for trying to help out neighbors and the local government gets to pad their wallets with this ridiculous fine.   I guess the only thing left to do is put it on Craigslist to be given away, but many of us just do what this guy did just to simplify the process.  Sure, Craigslist or trying to fit it in his vehicle to take to the nearest Goodwill, Salvation Army or resale shop may have saved this guy a hundred bucks.  Although, when you go to these places to purchase used goods, you must pay sales tax and I’m sure it is being looked into on how to tax transactions on Craigslist.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have absolutely nothing against Goodwill OR the Salvation Army.  These are heritage organizations dedicated to helping low income people shop for goods they couldn’t afford otherwise, not to mention the proceeds from Goodwill help the handicap.   But things like this happening is just truly sad.

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