NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Privatized Military Housing

May 12, 2003

The U.S. military has turned to the private sector to renovate or replace inadequate base housing in an effort to recruit and retain more of the all-volunteer force.

  • More than half of the 1.2 million enlisted personnel in today's military forces are married.
  • With approximately 270,000 housing units, base housing accommodates only about one-third of military families, who otherwise use their housing allowances in local communities.
  • Military families may wait two to four years to get into base housing.

The armed forces have undertaken a $7 billion effort to upgrade military housing nationwide. A 1996 law is turning construction and management of base housing over to the private sector, enabling the military to stretch its housing budget.

  • The Pentagon identifies about 60 percent of military housing units -- including 163,108 for military families -- as inadequate or too costly to modernize.
  • The average age for on-base housing is 33 years, and about one-quarter is more than 40 years old.
  • Defense planners estimate it would take 20 years and about $16 billion to complete the required renovations and improvements through its regular military construction program.

However, the goal is to revitalize, replace or demolish all inadequate housing by 2007 with private-sector help.

  • As of April, the Department of Defense has awarded 18 housing privatization projects nationwide, totaling 27,884 units.
  • These include detached new homes that are landscaped and equipped with garages, microwave ovens and ceiling fans. There are playgrounds, jogging trails, basketball and tennis courts and a community pool.
  • Private companies build and manage the housing, which is free to military families.

According to one Defense Department study, the reenlistment rate at bases with high-quality housing is about 15 percent higher than at places with low housing quality.

Source: David McLemore, "Privatized housing a base hit," Dallas Morning News, May 11, 2003.


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