Housing changes will improve Edwards quality of life

  • Published
  • By Col. Gregory Schwab
  • 95th Air Base Wing commander
Some say the only constant in today's fast-paced society is change. Over the past few years we have certainly seen many changes in Edwards' base housing, including new homes, expansive parks, better roads and the fine touches that have blended them into the first-rate military communities we enjoy today.

We will soon experience another change called privatization, which will help ensure the improvements continue into the foreseeable future for Edwards's base housing.

But before that happens, we need to take steps to ensure the fine quality of our housing extends to everyone on base. To do that, we will be converting 55 homes on the east side of our Joshua Acres neighborhood to Temporary Lodging Facilities.

Unfortunately, the change requires some of the families currently living in portions of Joshua Acres to move. They will be offered their choice of on base houses in their housing category while some may choose to move off base. Those residents have been contacted by their commanders, directors, first sergeants and the housing office. In addition, we conducted a Townhall meeting Wednesday, Feb. 9, to present all the facts and answer any questions of the affected residents. Still, like the changes preceding it, this transition is in the best interest of the installation and those permanent changing station to and from Edwards.

First, our current TLFs, with upgrades in 2004, are 1950-vintage units that served us well. Anyone who has stayed there; however, recognizes there is a need for significant upgrades to reach modern standards of temporary living. Our TLFs are the first and last impression the installation makes on us as we PCS. The new TLFs will leave a lasting impression on our members and their families that not only Team Edwards, but the USAF cares about them!

With privatization on the horizon we have a very small window to remove excess housing from the base. Also, our converting the Joshua Acres homes now allows us to demolish the older, less modern TLFs.

Second, this change helps us ensure the quality of our military communities. In the past few years we have seen a rise in vacant homes on base and have not been able to meet Air Force occupancy requirements. Converting the 55 homes into TLFs and demolishing the older TLFs, will result in fewer vacant homes and reduce housing maintenance costs.

This has the added effect of making Edwards more attractive to privatization contractors because we will offer excellent homes people will want to live in, while reducing the chances a contractor will need to seek off base residents to fill unoccupied houses.

Obviously this plan couldn't be put into place without the assistance and support of Air Force Materiel Command, and their Communications and Installation & Mission Support directorates have been phenomenal, as well as the Air Force Installations, Environment and Logistics office whom have approved our concept for conversion and change.

All in all this is a win-win decision for Edwards and our military members. The sacrifices being made by some our Joshua Acres families will help ensure that the Edwards community continues to be a great place to live and work.

The good news is all those affected will receive a fully paid move and our base housing office will guide them through the process to make their moves as smooth as possible. That process will begin immediately as residents must vacate their homes by Mar. 31 so we can begin transforming them into TLFs.

The TLF conversion process will take time to complete but, once the interior updates and communications upgrades are complete, we will have some of the finest TLFs in the Air Force. We will keep the community informed of the progress through town hall meetings, news articles, and social media.

Change is not always easy and it seldom comes without challenges. We are confident that the challenges we are undertaking today will improve our quality of life far into the future.