• Every community in our nation should have places like this.

Can you member the last time you moved into a new apartment? There’s a little more to it than finding a strong friend with a pick-up in exchange for pizza and beer. It’s an expensive process: Utility hook-ups and deposits. First and last month’s rents. Damage deposits. Not to mention all the basics furnishings and household supplies.

Now imagine you are homeless. Was it caused by bankruptcy from medical bills? Are you fleeing an abusive spouse? You’ve been laid off? Or maybe, like millions of Americans, you are struggling with mental illness or substance abuse. But does it matter?

Homeless is a horrible experience. It is humiliating. It can be dangerous. It is exhausting. And finding a safe, private place to call your own can feel impossible – especially in a place with a higher cost of living.

Have you heard about the New Beginnings transitional community in south Fayetteville? Privately funded, New Beginnings is twenty tiny homes providing “bridge” housing between homelessness and secure housing. A common area includes a kitchen, laundromat, meeting space and a shower building. An onsite social worker is provided as well as overnight security. It is a compassionate, empathetic way to help people find a place to call home.

Communities like New Beginnings are appearing all over our nation. As the economic gap widens and those experiencing homelessness struggle to find a place to live, Fayetteville joins Austin, Jacksonville, Madison and other cities providing “bridge” housing. Most of these projects are grass-roots efforts led by people who see beyond the stereotypes and realize that homeless people are…people.

And an important feature of New Beginnings is prioritizing an environment of equality. Residents are not looked down on or treated like they are broken. The intentionality of these relationships is remarkable.

But my favorite thing about this project is the opportunity for connections. New Beginnings is a place where individual citizens and groups from around Fayetteville can connect with the residents in a variety of ways. Can you cook? Do you play the guitar? Do you have a volleyball net? Do you like to read? Perhaps you can help with a meal. Or come and sing. Or play croquet. Or join a book club. New Beginnings helps remove the barriers and stigma that may exist between people with various levels of resources.

I encourage you to learn more about this amazing new resource in Fayetteville. Learn more at newbeginningsnwa.org. There are many ways you can help by contributing or volunteering.