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Fort Drum Privatized Housing
You’ve no doubt had to decide between living on base or in off-base housing. You know that living on base often offers a closer military community, less separation from work, and a more traditional (and safer!) culture to raise the kids. Perhaps the military member’s job requires you to reside in military housing, and the decision is completely out of your hands.
But have you ever stopped to look more closely at the companies who provide these communities? Military housing is run by five different companies. But it hasn’t always been that way.
If you’ve been in the military long enough or grew up in the military community, then you know that base housing wasn’t always privatized. In 1996, Congress created the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) under the National Defense Authorization Act.
The traditional government housing many knew before that was a collection of neglected homes in desperate need of repair (DOD reports showed that two-thirds of homes needed repair or replacement at the time of the MHPI), so handing over the process of building and maintaining military housing to private companies seemed like the answer.
These companies agreed to operate and maintain military housing in exchange for the full BAH of service members living there, while basing their business models on an expected occupancy rate.
Housing in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
These companies sign a 50-year lease agreement with the government, then build or rebuild houses, improve neighborhoods, and manage properties at various military installations, with the goal of increasing the overall quality of base housing.
But unless you’ve established residency outside of the gates and managed to tune out the news in the past year, then you know that privatized military housing isn’t without faults.
As recent as 2019, federal investigations have exposed neglect compromising many residents’ health as a consequence of lead poisoning and exposure to mold and sewage. If you live or have ever lived in base housing, then you’re probably nodding along vigorously.
Learn more: Living in Military Housing: What You Need to Know.
Joint Base San Antonio Housing: U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command, inspects improvements made in a housing unit, Jan. 24, 2020, at JBSA-Lackland, Texas.
“We are exceptionally proud of the important work we do for military families, from providing new housing and significant renovations and refurbishments to existing housing, as well as more responsive property management and maintenance support.”
Providing over 43,000 homes on 55 different military installations across the U.S., Balfour Beatty is the largest provider for military housing. They strive to pave the way for future generations by using creative recycling and reuse programs, building to the LEED and National Green Building Standard, as well as a commitment to alternative energy solutions including an industry-leading rooftop solar program.
Balfour Beatty prides itself on its award winning LifeWorks program and bringing the community together through planned events. From fitness clubs and seasonal crafts to cooking classes and community gardens, they make an effort to get neighbors outside and socialize with one another.
Balfour Beatty Housing Locations
“Our mission is to provide premier military housing, outstanding management and maintenance services to military families who deserve nothing less. We strive to understand the changing needs of military families and consider it our duty to improve the quality of life for those who live in our military housing communities.”
Camp Pendleton housing, image via Lincoln Military Housing.
The company was established in 1965. They build and manage everything including residential, commercial, retail, office, and other properties.
In 2001, Lincoln signed a partnership with the U.S. government. Today they manage over 36,000 homes on 31 different military installations across the country.
Lincoln Military Housing Locations
“Hunt is honored to serve those who serve us. We understand the sacrifice and commitment you and your family make every day and for that we thank you.”
Housing on Maxwell AFB, image via Hunt Military Communities.
With over 43,000 homes located on Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force installations, Hunt Military Communities is a well-seasoned housing provider for military families.
Hunt takes pride in its customer service and property management awards from CEL & Associates A-List and Platinum Awards, Professional Housing Managers Association Property of the Year, ENR Southwest Best Projects Award, Institute for Real Estate Management Associate of the Year, and more. Hunt also gives back.
Hunt Military Housing Locations
Aerial view of Soaring Heights Communities, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base privatized housing.
“Lendlease creates communities that regenerate our environment, enrich people’s lives and foster economic growth throughout the United States.”
Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, Lendlease is an international provider. Their projects extend beyond privatized military housing. You don’t have to be an architect to know some of their more famous endeavors.
“Lendlease has been entrusted with many projects of public, cultural and social significance: constructing the Sydney Opera House, creating the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, and restoring and renovating historic buildings such as London’s Tate Britain and National Theatre.”
Lendlease completed over 40,000 homes across the US, while prioritizing health and safety, sustainability, and customers.
Lendlease military community locations:
Home on Fort Riley, via Corvias Property Management.
“Corvias pursues the kinds of partnerships that materially and sustainably improve the quality of life for the people who call our communities home, purposefully choosing to partner with organizations who share our values and whose mission is to serve as the foundational blocks, or pillars, of our nation.”
Corvias was originally founded in 1968 as Picerne Military Housing is a fully integrated development, construction, and property management company working to create a quality living environment for military families.
In 2006, the company started the Corvias Foundation. In awe of the military families they serve and the sacrifices they make, the Foundation paves the way for Corvias to expand higher-education opportunities. The company provides support for children of the military, and recognizes the unemployment rate among military spouses and offers scholarships as a way to assist financially.
Corvias Military Housing locations:
After recent events, military families are asking the question, Where do we go from here? If the Military Privatization Housing Initiative was created to ensure higher quality of living conditions for military families and the contractual companies are failing to do that, what happens?
After reviewing the evidence of military housing shortcomings, the Senate Armed Forces Committee earmarked $300 million for military housing oversight and the creation of a Tenant Bill of Rights for military families living on base. This new addition includes 15 rights with the intent to provide safe, quality, and well-maintained homes on DOD installations.
In What’s the Future of Military Housing?, MilitaryByOwner writer Dawn M. Smith shares:
“The major takeaways from the entirety of the correction process revolve around more oversight from both the housing companies and military leaders. More importantly, however, is the ability of military families to have a voice. Proposed legislation puts power back into the hands of service members and their families through various resources such as the Army’s Housing Office and the implementation of resident customer care advocates hired by the military.”
The next question is, will it stick? While the promise of action towards the concerns of military families is comforting and reassuring, some doubt that it’s sustainable — after all, the deterioration and neglect of military housing have already happened once (and now twice) before.
For now, optimism is key, and due diligence of the utmost importance. Privatized military housing needs to do its job of maintaining safe, habitable homes, while residents need to continue to raise concerns when warranted.
By Danielle Keech