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Housing going private: Change will mean bigger, better base housing

Base workers, residents urged to be aware of the threat during summer

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

The 6th Air Mobility Wing is getting out of the housing business, and it will be turning over the building, maintaining and management of housing to a private company.

Competitive bidding will determine what company will take over but perhaps as early as October 2006 those living on base could have a new landlord.

The Air Force won't be giving up ownership of land or the current dwellings on it but it will recede into the background, providing oversight of the contractor through a Management Review Committee, which will resolve any issues with the contractor for the length of the 50-year contract.

Many bases already have privatized housing and more are heading that direction soon. The U.S. Congress passed the Military Housing Privatization Initiative in 1996, with the plan to privatize all military base housing. From the base residents' standpoint little will change, and what does will likely be an improvement. Housing costs will be tied to the military member's housing allowance less the estimated cost of utilities. Residents will pay utility companies directly.

Under the plan it is expected new homes built by the contractor will be a bit larger, of better quality and safer, said Sandra Fagin, a housing specialist with 6th Civil Engineer Squadron.

"I'm optimistic that from everything I've seen it will be better and that the standard will change for the better," she added.

MacDill's contract will include Andrews Air Force Base, Travis AFB and Fairchild AFB in a housing management package, and bidding for the contract may begin sometime next summer or fall.

MacDill is preparing the proposal, which details everything that would be required of contractors. The Request for Proposal is a lengthy document and along with MacDill, the Air Force and Air Mobility Command have a hand in it hammering out the details.

Under the plan, the first phase of new, privately managed homes, would begin being built in 2008. The contractor would handle all aspects of the process of building, sales (renting), maintaining, operating on a lease of the land upon which the housing sits.

Ms. Fagin said any existing housing on base also would be transferred to management under the contractor, with the long-range plan to demolish all substandard or older housing for replacement by newer housing that is larger, has more attractive features and would be safer for the families living in them.

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