Community Partner Spotlight: How New Beginnings is Transforming Lives in Fayetteville

Program Director Solomon Burchfield explains the purpose of the non-profit New Beginnings and how they plan to aid the homeless population amid the rising cost of housing in an interview with Kevin Kentfield Jr.

New Beginnings is a non-profit that focuses on meeting the needs of the homeless population and building community through bridge housing and a resident-guided model.

Bridge housing is a temporary accommodation for homeless individuals. New Beginnings assesses an individual based on a priority scale that determines who is selected. People with more immediate needs, like health issues, are more likely to get admitted to this program and anyone chosen must have been homeless for at least one year.

The program finds it important to create a successful and helpful community rather than only meeting needs. That is where the resident-guided model comes in. “The model gets the members to think and work together, rely on accountability, and get back in the mainstream of what society asks of its citizens,” said Program Director Solomon Burchfield. The attention to self-governance within New Beginnings helps build the skills to get the residents back into the community.

In the homeless population, Solomon Burchfield stated, “every story is different, some common themes include economic issues, traumatic childhood, lack of supportive systems, and the reliance on incarceration.” Homelessness can happen to anyone, and it is vital that citizens begin to understand the importance of getting that population back on their feet.

When asked about favorite responsibilities of being a program director Solomon Burchfield said, “The relationship-building with the unhoused has been enjoyable, and letting them be a part of the design phase. The staff of New Beginnings has almost entirely been homeless at some point in their lives.”

New Beginnings annual report emphasized the success of 26 individuals off of the streets and into safe communities. Solom Burchfield stated goals for the future entail, “grant funds being attributed toward the buying and renting of duplexes, more options of supportive housing, and the opening of Arkansas’ first medical respites.” Medical respites offer a short-term place for the homeless population to recover from serious physical illness or injury.

With the sizeable increase of housing in Northwest Arkansas Solomon Burchfield said “I grew up in Fayetteville, and there has been a regular increase in that area. I remember seeing trailer parks getting wrecked and replaced with new places for people of a higher socioeconomic status. There is nothing bad about that, but where did those people go who needed that accessible housing?”

Written by Kevin Kentfield Jr.