Military housing has changed dramatically in the last few years. Gone, or going, are the two story multifamily chicken coops that used to house military families. On many installations this configuration of housing was called Wheery Housing by the military, but nicknamed Dreary Housing by the families that lived in them. Gun metal grey shared hallways and stairwells, plus flimsy structures, did little to provide privacy and space for growing families.
The Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) has changed all that. This is an arrangement between the government and private developers whereby the developer owns, operates, maintains, improves and generally assumes the responsibility for military housing. This initiative was authorized in 1996 under the National Defense Authorization Act. The arrangement provides a variety of financial tools on a loan or guarantee basis to the developer and basically turns the entire operation over to the developer for a long term relationship of up to 50 years. The MHPI came about because the Department of Defense (DOD) had 257,000 housing units they were managing worldwide and fifty percent needed renovation or replacement.
Morale in the military had declined considerably due to the state of military housing and the DOD budget was unable to handle the cost of renovation and building that was needed. It was more cost effective to turn the Basic Housing Allowance (BHA) over to the military member and loan the money to private companies to build new housing or massively renovate some of the housing that was already in place. MHPI developers borrow the money from Uncle Sam, build the homes cheaper and faster than the government could, and the service members use the BHA to pay the developer the rent. It is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders involved.
Gone are the ghetto style housing areas. In their place are separate neighborhoods just like those in upscale suburban developments anywhere in the United States. Homes are energy star or energy efficient, well designed and within all state and local codes. All appliances are included and consist of built in microwaves, dishwashers, flat-top ranges, side-by-side refrigerator freezers with ice makers and water dispensers, carpeting and hardwood floors, an average of 600 more square feet per unit, two car garages, and the homes are most detached homes or at most, duplexes. It isn’t just military housing; it is a stylish home to be proud of and raise a family in. It is an initiative that has more than improved morale because it is also a recruiting tool. As one young Army sergeant stated about the new housing: “It is a lot easier to think about staying in the military now”.
For a complete list of housing project awards see: