“Our streets cannot be the waiting room. The longer people are on the streets, trauma takes a serious toll, making future successful outcomes much more challenging,” says Elizabeth Funk.
With this notion she created DignityMoves, a social enterprise that builds innovative interim housing for the tens of thousands of individuals and families in California facing homelessness.
DignityMoves provides physical support, borrowing vacant parking lots to set up temporary cabins using state-of-the-art prefabricated modular construction, giving everyone their own room and a door that locks. They also provide emotional and mental support, partnering with leading services agencies who operate the sites and provide wrap-around assistance to help people take positive steps forward.
The impact is immediate; in the past year DignityMoves has built four interim housing communities, with 70 rooms in San Francisco for 94 residents, 35 rooms in Santa Barbara for 50 residents, 60 rooms in Rohnert Park for 72 residents and the newest Alamea residence, housing 61 residents. With an average stay of six months, these communities will serve more than 400 people. In January 2023, the organization launched DignityNOW in partnership with Santa Barbara County, a bold initiative to create sufficient interim housing for everyone experiencing unsheltered homelessness across the County, totaling approximately 437 beds and more than closing the county’s shelter gap. With more than 20 cities in their pipeline, they are on pace to build enough rooms in the next two years to serve more than 50,000 people.
Funk was one of the early pioneers in impact investing, founding the Dignity Fund in 2004, one of the first for-profit funds mobilizing investment capital for the microfinance industry and serving as a fund manager for several impact funds, a mentor to social entrepreneurs, and an angel investor. She also has been actively involved in homelessness in California for nearly two decades, serving on such boards as the Glide Memorial’s Community Housing initiative, LifeMoves, a leading homelessness services organization in Silicon Valley and HomeRise, a permanent supportive housing developer in San Francisco.