What We Do

Rapid, Cost-Effective, and therefore SCALABLE

The homelessness crisis is urgent, the numbers are large and growing. We need to treat this as the emergency that it is and use creative approaches.

Land is expensive, so we borrow it.

Any time that a parcel of land is underutilized or vacant is a waste of a precious resource. We take advantage of parking lots or other sites to create temporary DignityMoves communities for as little as 3 years. When needed we pick up the units by forklift and relocate them to a new location in the region where they can continue to be used for interim housing.

A ½ acre can accommodate a DignityMoves community with 70 rooms, including ample common areas. Our modular model allows us to take advantage of odd-shaped parcels that might be overlooked.

Private Landowners

Private developers with projects early in the lengthy entitlements process or postponed due to financing or market conditions.

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A landowner can make an in-kind donation of a no-cost lease and receive a tax receipt for the fair market value of a land lease?

New legislation in California land used by nonprofits such as DignityMoves for homeless shelters and other qualified purposes is exempt from property taxes during the term of the lease

Government-owned land

Cities, counties, transit authorities.

Governments often reserve land in case it’s needed for roadways, transit hubs, or other developments unforeseen in the future.

Faith-based Organizations

Faith-based organizations own over 38,000 acres of developable land in California alone. Called “YIGBY” (Yes in God’s Backyard), using faith-based sites are not only mission-aligned but could also bring additional revenue to support their own programs.

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Recent legislation gives faith-based organizations much greater flexibility for development on their land.


Many hospitals own land surrounding their existing hospitals, holding for future potential expansion. Homelessness has severe impacts on health. Hospitals can partner with us to build dedicated rooms for patients with acute medical conditions, or post-hospital respite care.

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About half of the cost of our existing homelessness crisis is borne by the medical system due to preventable hospitalizations, frequent emergency room visits.  California’s “Anti-dumping” law prevents hospitals from releasing patients without securing a place for them to go.

If you have ideas of vacant land in your community, please contact us!  Ideal sites are flat, paved, and near public transportation and other essential services.

Building codes are onerous, so we design to emergency building codes.

DignityMoves sees homelessness as a crisis.

We use the same building codes that FEMA uses in response to natural disasters. While still ensuring life safety and habitability standards, these codes give us flexibility such as above-ground utilities, no underground permanent foundations, and minimal room sizes.

California and many other States have issued “Emergency Building Codes” due to the housing crisis.  In California it’s Appendix O of the California Building Codes.  These allow us to build emergency “cabins” quickly and inexpensively.  The emergency codes allow for very streamlined permitting: we obtained our permits in San Francisco in under 3 weeks, an historic first!

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Most cities in counties in California and across the region have declared a housing crisis.

Construction costs are skyrocketing, so we use modular and prefabricated materials.

DignityMoves uses state-of-the-art modular and prefabricated components to build our communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.  Because our projects are temporary, we strive for “light touch” site development work leaving as little of a project budget behind as possible when we leave.

We can build interim housing for a fraction of the cost of permanent buildings. The units themselves cost between $15,000 and $30,000 per room.  However, there is more to building a community than just the units alone.

We build communities, not just rooms.

All of our projects include extensive community spaces.  The tight sense of community is one of the most precious things to people who are living on the streets and in encampments.  At DignityMoves we balance the residents’ need for privacy with this need to feel connected to a community.

  • A dining building that doubles as a conference room and activity center
  • Case manager and staff offices for private consultations
  • A computer lab where residents can research jobs, write resumes, or contact family
  • Pet relief areas
  • Decks and other outdoor gathering areas
  • Community gardens (when space allows)

For as low as $50,000 per unit, we are able to build communities for a fraction of the cost of traditional housing.

Local resistance to shelters is formidable

DignityMoves turns local resistance into our ally by prioritizing people living and sleeping in the immediate area for placement in our communities. When a DignityMoves community comes to the neighborhood, it’s the streets in the immediate vicinity that change almost overnight. Soon neighborhoods come to realize that a DignityMoves community is far better than having hungry, desperate people living in colorful, visible tents languishing on their street corners.

The fact that DignityMoves communities are temporary (usually 3-5 years) reduces concerns about the impact on property values.

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Did You Know ?

In Martin v. Boise the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling preventing cities and counties from enforcing anti-camping or anti-sleeping laws if they do not have an available shelter bed to offer the person.

The Power of Community Philanthropy and Partners

DignityMoves embraces an inclusive and expansive philanthropy model that welcomes many to join us in a very big tent. Our unique model combines tried-and-true traditional nonprofit philanthropy with cutting-edge partnership and investing know-how from the for-profit sector. Our innovative public-private partnerships draw in more resources, from more directions, and faster. We have been able to launch, build, and excel by filling a niche as a lynchpin – the keystone – uniting diverse players in the homelessness ecosystem so they harmonize and produce results together. We are fast, flexible, and nimble relationship-builders creating ways for companies, government agencies, and even passionate individuals to contribute to solutions.

For example, we secured a discounted rate from Gensler for their services, getting construction rolling and benefiting the company through community goodwill. We launched our Adopt-a-Room project that enlisted volunteers in decorating rooms for residents in our projects. The volunteers were elated to be part of the solution, the residents experienced a warm welcome, and these connections led to grants and other resources down the road. We welcome partners and supporters in every form.

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With or Without Private Bathrooms – more about Community Living

Psychologists will tell you that it is generally best for people not to have their own bathrooms and kitchens when first coming in out of encampments.  During an interim adjustment period, it is healthier for people to have a reason to leave their rooms to have frequent interactions with staff and peers.  Our rooms are much like dorm rooms in college, where students must go down the hall to use a bathroom and dine in dining halls with their peers.  We’ve found that residents strongly prefer this type of community living.  Typically for these Pop-up projects we use shared bathroom and kitchen facilities.  This minimizes the number of water and sewer connections on the site.

Bathrooms are preferred in certain circumstances, such as families or medically fragile individuals.  Our Pop-Up projects sometimes have a percent of units with ensuite (private) bathrooms. While private bathrooms increase the site preparation and plumbing costs they are available as needed.

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