Housing Choices for Service Members and Families
July 14, 2023
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Service Members’ Housing Options
There isn’t just one option when it comes to housing for service members and their families.
In fact, there are often several different kinds of options depending on the location.
These may include on-base housing, off-base housing, privatized military housing, barracks, and government-owned military installations.
In this article, we’re going to cover each of these options and provide brief details on what you can expect from each alternative.
On-base housing is a housing option provided by the military on military installations. Here are some important details regarding on-base housing:
- Availability: This can vary depending on the military installation and the demand for housing. Some installations may have enough housing units to accommodate all eligible service members and their families, while others may have limited availability and rely on waiting lists.
- Housing Types: On-base housing usually includes apartments, townhouses, or single-family homes. The specific kinds available depend on the installation and the needs of the community.
- Allocation: When a service member is assigned to a military installation and requests on-base housing, they are typically placed on a waiting list. The allocation process considers factors such as rank, family size, and availability of housing units. Priority is usually given to those with dependents and/or a higher rank.
- Rent: Service members who reside on-base are generally required to pay rent. The rent amount is typically deducted from the service member’s pay. The rent is based on the service member’s rank and kind of unit. The rent charged for on-base housing is often similar to the local civilian housing market’s rates.
- Maintenance: The maintenance and repairs of on-base housing units are generally the military housing office’s responsibility. Residents report maintenance issues to the proper housing office to resolve the issues.
- Amenities: On-base housing often offers several amenities to improve the quality of life for service members and their families. Community centers, playgrounds, parks, swimming pools, and other recreational areas are all common examples. Some installations also provide services like lawn care and landscaping.
On-base housing offers proximity to work, shorter commute times, and a sense of community among military families. It can also provide easier access to base facilities, such as schools, childcare centers, medical facilities, commissaries, and exchanges. Thus, it’s often a popular housing option for military families.
It’s important to note that the specific policies, procedures, and amenities related to on-base housing vary between military installations. Therefore, it’s wise to contact the housing office or support services at the respective installation for detailed and up-to-date information.
Privatized Military Housing
On-base privatized housing is an arrangement wherein the management and operation of military housing is contracted out to private companies. Here are some key components of privatized housing:
- Background: In many countries, including the United States, there has been a shift to privatizing military housing to improve the quality of housing and expedite renovations and maintenance.
- Public-Private Partnership (PPP): Privatized military housing operates under a public-private partnership model. The military keeps ownership of the land, while the private company handles construction, maintenance, and management for the housing units and related infrastructure.
- Housing Types: Typical options may include apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes of various sizes and configurations.
- Allocation and Rent: The allocation process for privatized housing is typically similar to on-base housing. Service members submit their housing preferences, and allocations are based on factors such as rank, family size, and availability. Rent for privatized housing is usually determined based on the service member’s rank and the type of housing unit. The rent is paid by the service member and is deducted from their pay.
- Maintenance and Repairs: Privatized housing companies are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and repairs of the housing units. They have dedicated maintenance staff who address issues reported by residents. The goal is to provide timely and efficient maintenance services to ensure the quality and habitability of the housing units.
- Amenities and Services: Privatized housing communities often offer a range of amenities and services similar to those found in on-base housing. These may include community centers, parks, playgrounds, sports facilities, swimming pools, and other recreational areas. The privatized housing company may also provide additional services such as lawn care, landscaping, and resident events.
- Resident Satisfaction: Privatized housing companies generally prioritize resident satisfaction and have processes in place to address any concerns or issues raised by residents. They often have dedicated resident service centers or offices where residents can seek assistance, report maintenance problems, or provide feedback.
It’s important to note that the specific details of privatized housing, including the companies involved and the policies in place, can vary between military installations and countries. Therefore, service members and their families should consult the housing office or support services at their respective installation for accurate and up-to-date information regarding privatized housing options and procedures.
Every service branch differs on what rank is required to live in unaccompanied housing:
- The Army and Marine Corps require single service members with pay grades E-5 and below to live in the barracks.
- The Navy requires single service members with pay grades E-4 and below to live in the barracks.
- The Air Force requires single service members with pay grades E-4 and below and with less than three years of service to live in the barracks (e.g., dorms).
Barracks differ somewhat significantly from the living situations discussed earlier. Here are some key things you should know about on-base living:
- Rent and Utilities: In most cases, service members residing in barracks do not pay rent, as it is considered part of their compensation package. However, there may be exceptions or special circumstances where a nominal fee is charged. On the other hand, service members living in on-base housing must generally pay rent, which is typically deducted directly from their pay. Some utilities may be included in the rent, while others may need to be arranged and paid for separately.
- Rules and Regulations: The rules for on-base housing are in place to facilitate discipline, safety, and a harmonious living environment. They may cover areas such as noise regulations, visitor policies, pet ownership, and maintenance responsibilities.
- Visitors: After basic training, service members can typically have visitors. While visitors cannot stay the night in the barracks, most bases have nearby accommodations for visiting family members and friends.
- Extra Allowances: When your service member lives on base, they will not receive housing or food allowance. Instead, members only receive base pay and use their ID cards to eat for free in the dining facility on base.
- Recreation and Entertainment: Military bases offer service members a wide range of recreation, sporting and fitness, arts and crafts, entertainment offerings and more through the Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. Some installations even offer auto repair and other classes.
Government-owned Military Installations
Government-owned military installations, in the context of housing, usually refer to military housing units or facilities owned and managed directly by the government. It’s important to know certain things about this type of housing:
- Availability: Government-owned housing units are typically located in civilian communities near military installations. They serve as an alternative housing option when on-base housing or privatized housing is limited or unavailable.
- Allocation: The allocation of government-owned housing units is generally based on need and availability. Priority is often given to service members with dependents and those who cannot be accommodated in on base or privatized housing due to limited availability.
- Housing Types: Government-owned housing can include apartments, townhouses, or single-family homes. The specific housing units available depend on the government’s housing inventory and the military community’s needs in that area.
- Rent: Service members living in government-owned housing units typically pay rent directly to the government agency or organization responsible for managing the housing. The rent amount is usually based on the service member’s rank and the type of housing unit occupied. The government aims to provide affordable housing options to military personnel and their families.
- Maintenance and Repairs: The government agency or organization overseeing the government-owned housing units is generally responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the units. They ensure that the housing units meet required standards and address any reported maintenance issues promptly.
- Amenities and Services: Government-owned housing units may offer basic amenities, such as playgrounds or community centers, depending on the specific location and resources available. However, the extent of amenities and services provided may be more limited compared to on-base housing or privatized housing.
- Support and Assistance: Service members residing in government-owned housing units typically have access to support services and resources provided by the military installation. This may include assistance with housing-related matters, such as lease agreements, maintenance requests, or dispute resolution.
- Transition and Permanent Change of Station (PCS): Government-owned housing can be particularly useful during times of transition, such as when service members are relocating due to a permanent change of station (PCS). It provides a temporary housing option until more permanent arrangements can be made.
It’s important to note that government-owned housing options and policies vary between military branches. The availability and specific procedures regarding government-owned housing will depend on the regulations and practices in place within each military organization.
Military members have different housing options depending on their situation. It’s important to understand the different choices to know what is best under different circumstances.