Housing privatization comes out of hibernation
By Jeanette J. White, 412th Test Wing Civil Engineering Division
/ Published April 08, 2013
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Some of you may remember the excitement and anticipation a couple of years ago when housing privatization was announced here at Edwards. The installation commander held a couple of town hall meetings and we talked about changes coming. Residents were eager to sign leases to live in our homes on the base. Then, suddenly, the topic got very quiet with an eventual announcement that the project was on hold. However, while this "sleeping bear" was hibernating, core actions were happening behind the scenes. The Air Force and Picerne Military Housing have been working together to make future privatized housing communities a great package for military families, and as Spring arrives, we're seeing a reawakening of the effort to privatize and turn over our military family housing to Picerne Military Housing LLC, which was just renamed as Corvias Military Living.
In 1996, the Department of Defense began the Military Housing Privatization Initiative when it admitted that more than two-thirds of all military housing had become inadequate and the money to fix the problem was not available. Since then, more than 90% of military housing in the United States has been successfully privatized at more than 43 installations, with military members reaping the benefits of newer homes and more attractive neighborhoods. Privatization, or turning housing management over to a private entity, allows the government to leverage funds to improve living conditions for service members and their families. The government provides some money, but the developer provides more. The land is leased for 50 years and the homes are conveyed to the project owner.
Edwards AFB is one of six installations in the Continental Group, along with Hurlburt Field, Fla., Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Eielson AFB, Alaska, McConnell, Kansas, and Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. Corvias Military Living will own and manage more than 4,000 homes in this group in addition to the 20,000 Army privatized homes already in its inventory. Picerne (now Corvias) is nationally ranked for outstanding customer service at seven Army installations.
Although the date for the transfer of homes to Corvias has not been established, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, which oversees housing privatization, is aiming to close the deal this summer. What does that mean for Edwards? Housing residents will sign leases with Corvias prior to the transfer of homes. After the transfer, Corvias will begin making improvements to homes, parks, and landscaping and building a new community center and other amenities. We will not be seeing new homes built here since all the homes at Edwards are relatively new. The good news is that we won't have to move people around so renovations or demolition can take place; we have already done that and are well-postured to move into privatization with a seamless transfer and minimal disruption to residents. Each military resident will pay monthly rent in the form of an allotment to Corvias in the amount of their Basic Housing Allowance. In exchange for the BAH rental payment, residents will also receive renter's insurance, basic utilities, yard maintenance; plus programs geared to families in keeping with Corvias' mission of "families first."
With the collection of BAH as rent, there's more "bang for the buck" because the funds going into the project provide the cash flow to sustain the project. Corvias has an incentive to keep the homes and neighborhoods desirable and provide good customer service to keep the homes occupied. After all the bills are paid, the government gets a share of the profits and the project owner receives a management fee.
For now, watch for upcoming articles in Desert Wings and town hall meetings. Learn everything you can about these important and exciting changes coming to Edwards! We'll do our best to keep you informed and ready!