All Military Housing Is NOT Created Equal? YDU

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Why didn’t you tell me that some of our military housing would be a bit … sub-par? I mean, I don’t want to gripe too much because it is, after all, a roof over my family.  But our current housing leaves a lot to be desired.

My husband is in the Air Force. I met him in Great Falls, Montana where he was stationed at Malmstrom AFB. The first couple of houses we lived in on base were OK. Nothing swanky, but nothing below what I thought someone in our armed services deserves. We never had a problem with maintenance. They were always friendly and fixed whatever it was we needed fixed in a timely manner.

At one point the base started a new housing project. They slowly tore down all the old housing and replaced it with shiny new houses. They were unbelievable! The last house I lived in had vaulted ceilings in the kitchen and dinning room. A sitting room and a living room. Downstairs bathroom, huge laundry room connected to a huge garage, three bedrooms a nd a bathroom upstairs. Had this been a house off base I would have bought it!

Not too long ago we got orders to Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach, Fla. I am appalled at the housing here! They knowingly have rat problems in the homes, cockroach problems (I guess in the south they call them Palmetto Bugs, lets not get it twisted, a cockroach is a cockroach no matter what type of fancy-shmancy name you give it), ants, ticks, spider problems.

And I don’t mean just the occasional sighting. No matter what you do you can never get a hold on these things. Every person I have talked to who resides in these homes hates it. If we felt it was safer to live off base we all would. It is not exactly a great area.

The problem that I am seeing is that since military housing became privatized, no one seems to care. It seems like the Housing Office does not care about its tenants and all we are to them is a paycheck. We feel as though the Air Force has washed it hands of the housing situations and no longer care that its men and women are living in conditions no better than low income housing.

From what I have heard from friends at other bases I am not alone here. I know that there are budget considerations, but I feel as though our men and women in the United States military need to be treated well and that goes for their housing conditions. I am not asking that they give them giant mansions, or even homes equally as large as the commander’s home.

I’m just asking not to be living on a crumbling foundation and to deal with a Housing Office that cares that our men and women in uniform can come back to  a nice home with ample room, take their boots off and relax.  And if they could do that without rats and bugs, so much the better.

Amber Baxter is an Air Force wife currently stationed in Florida.

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Why Didn't You Tell Me
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  • Sabrina

    I will second that. And add…the wait times for housing at some installations are beyond fathomable and pose a significant strain on military families. Case in point, we moved this summer to Ft Drum…the wait time for senior enlisted housing is 24+ months and the housing available on the economy is truly disgraceful. If you have ever been to this area you know what I am talking about. Here I sit, typing from the upstairs apartment of what can best be described as a crack house in Watertown…and the rental rate is notoriously: What is your husband’s BAH, again?

  • On the other side of things, we are stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska and we have fabulous housing. Our house is huge, beautiful, and well-maintained. I have never had a problem with the housing office or maintenance and they have always been kind and helpful. I know that not all housing companies are like that, we have dealt with some crappy ones as well. At Fort Irwin, for instance, they have you over a barrel and they know it, because the nearest town is 45 minutes away, nobody wants to make that drive. We had nothing but problems there. BUT, not all housing sucks. :-)

    • Heather

      We lived in Company grade housing at Wainwright, and it was very nice. We had no problems and we were lucky enough to have one of the few homes that had a basement in that housing area. We have also lived in 4 different houses at Fort Irwin (having been stationed there 3 times, soon to be 4 this coming summer). We lived in the post WWII era housing there as lower enlisted/jr NCO, and yes, it left something to be desired. However, at that time the government was still running things and it was very well maintained for being what it was. And yes, we had to hire someone to clean those two homes because the requirements were so high. It was worth the $400. lol Our third time there was in Company grade housing which was brand new and it is very nice. We never had a bit of problems with housing or maintenance personally. We chose to clean those two home (we lived in two our third time there) with no problems on clearing. Like I said we are again on our way there , this time we will be in field grade housing. While I know the neighborhood, and do like it, the housing is older, and we were told it is hit and miss as for what kind of upgrades the houses have. They only change things as needed. So, if the stove from 1985 is ok, it’s still there. But, NOTHING could be worse then the old housing at Fort Rucker. We lived in a S*&%hole for 6 months. It was disgusting. We had to fight to be moved from that place and it was only after a sewage pipe broke they agreed. Telling us it was a choice adn we had to pay for it. We could have fought that, but we just wanted to be out of there so we moved ourselves. That housing office has been by far the worst to work with in the past 20 years. It really is hit or miss on the housing. Some places the best housing is lower enlisted, some it’s field grade. Unfortunately not everyone is going to be happy with every house they get at every duty station if they stay in long enough.

      • We lived in new housing at Irwin. The house itself was nice, but rather cheaply built. Doors kept falling off, and things like that. But the housing company itself was terrible. Took them three weeks to come out and fix my fence that blew down in a windstorm – my backyard was open to the main road and I did FCC. Not a good combination. Of course if they had used something besides staples to put the fence up in the first place, it might not have blown down. :-) They wanted to charge us a ridiculous amount of money to clear, even though the house was in perfect condition when we left. We fought it and we won, and paid nothing, but it makes me wonder how many junior soldiers are being railroaded when they leave. Everywhere else we’ve been has been fine. Wainwright is by far the best.

  • sue

    we dont live in housing and havent for 11 years, the last 2 duty stations were horrible, we lived in carlisle barracks pa and were told not to put anything wood in our storage area or the termites would eat it and then we went to germany we lived in stairwell housing we were on the 3rd floor and the had barracks above us ont he 4th floor, imagine living with smaill children below single soilders. i swore i would never live in houseing again, and never might the wait when we got to ft bragg the wait was 4 years needless to say we bought this time

  • I couldn’t believe the difference in housing between the two duty stations we were at in Germany. Luckily we were in the not so nice place first. When we moved I was in shock at how different it was.

  • The military housing situation seems less than favorable for those that serve our country, I am very disappointed in that. Is there any way you could purchase a home and live off-base?

    Housing prices are at an all time low and rates are unbelievably low as well. If you are going to be in the area for at least three years it might be an option.

  • SCA

    I worked for housing at Fort Bragg and I can tell you we CARED a lot about our families, most everyone working for housing is retired or an active duty spouse. I am sorry, but in Florida (or NC, SC, GA, MS, LA…) you get bugs. No matter what. They are part of living in the south. I hate them too, but unfortunately even bombing doesnt always help. Ask your privatized housing office for a list of what was required of residents pre-privatized housing when the Army was in charge and I bet everyone stops complaining. No pools, no clubhouses, no resident events, no 24 hour maintenance, no getting your grass cut….Don’t live on base if you don’t like it!

    • Mamatoni6

      Maybe there at Ft.Bragg that’s the case, but that’s not the case everywhere. I have never lived in housing that had pools, clubhouses, resident events and definitely no 24 hour maintenance, unless it was a serious emergency, that was done when the Army still ran it too. That’s 7 different stations, all privatized, and Im going off our personal experiences, I’m not going to bring up issues others have. Yeah the front yard gets mowed, half assed. Never in any of these stations were retired or active duty spouses working either, all civilians, by the contractors company. Its true you don’t have to clean very well before you move now, those standards were lowered, but when the Army ran housing it was NOT worse then now, if anything things actually got done. So before you start with, don’t like it don’t live there, look beyond where you are at, because that is not the case. If anything you are the minority.

  • Mamatoni6

    Last duty station was Ft.Bliss, the housing was ridiculous! We were literally stuffed into the tiniest 4 bedroom you had ever seen. I know, you’d think 4 bedrooms can’t be that bad, but it was. You couldn’t fit more then a bed and small dresser into a room, never mind toys. The master bedroom barely fit a queen bed, dresser and bassinet. The only storage was a small closet and This was a new house! I was about to have another baby and since the wait list for a bigger house was over 3years we made the mistake of buying. After dealing with weeks of waiting on orders for many things to be fixed, cause each thing had to have its own order and was done on its own day, the size (like why bother building a 4 bedroom if everything is miniaturized) we figured we’d go for it since we would be there for awhile. That changed after a few years for a number of reasons(none of which I’ll bore you with),but we had to foreclose. Yes that is on Us not the Military. Now here we are in joint base housing in Hawaii in the same situation. Is what really gets to my husband is after 18 years he’s made some rank and thought we would be in Senior NCO housing, as promised by housing before we PCSd(they had our date of arrival, copies of orders everything).They even sent us 2 different layouts of houses we would be offered when we got here. Nope! Yet again, we are in the smallest house in this housing area, with the highest rank. I personally don’t care about the rank, but I can understand why he has a problem with it. Is what really bothers me the amount we pay for this little house. We want to and may go ahead and move off base, one issue is I have a tumor on my adrenal gland, something that has caused one heart attack already, living here he is maybe 5min from home, so when health issues arise he is here quickly. I know that part is a personal issue, but the fact that we pay about $3200 while my neighbors pay considerably less then we do for a much larger house isn’t. Yet if we try for a larger house again the waiting list is at 2 and a half years and on another post. It is frustrating as I drive through housing and there sits many empty, large refurbished, ready to go houses(not empty for a week or two but months) when I inquired about this, the housing manager said she didn’t know why. I will say that any orders we put in to have anything fixed is usually done in about a week to 10 days. Everyone is very nice, considerate about shoes, and cleaning up after they finish working. Something we hadn’t seen in quite a few stations. The whole thing is very frustrating!

  • Little Lady

    I agree with this article, my friend lives at Patrick AFB! Even though the AF gives us BAH, I feel like the money we receive and give away to the housing isn’t worth it! The next place we get stationed I am not going to live on base(well post because we have to go to an Army Post) because we aren’t sure what it’ll be like! the house we moved into for Fort Ord, Monterey, CA is 1675 a month for a TINY two bedroom house and the day I moved into it there were DEAD bugs everywhere, I had to clean it up myself and then call maintenance to find out they don’t have a contract with any pest control. I then had to go out and buy pest sprays and do it myself! Annoying!

  • Maria

    Hello. Thank God I found people who think like me . We live in Wheeler AAF Hawaii and the house is a nightmare I make a video ( is in youtube under Military housing by Island Palm) and I hope all the world can see how some military families lived . I visited the manager office and they just dont care … They said : “we cant do much because Hawaii is a place with bugs…. ” and I said to him (Anthony R. Hintz -housing manager) but the bugs should be out no inside all over your house . At the end he didnt do anything …. Please take a look to the pics in my video in youtube you will be speechless !!! My name is Maria and my phone number is 253-282-6632 id anyone has any question or any suggestion for me thanks

    • YZP

      If housing will not help (like they dont do here at Patrick) the only thing you can really do is take it on yourself. You can have the housing office send out the exterminators but that might not be enough. You might want to call your own and have them come out to fumigate. What I learned with the giant roaches is that if you have any shrubbery our trees outside clear them at least 4 feet from your house and keep your gutters clear. The love that stuff! Also, check your house for places bugs can get in. Cover your drains at night. Keep traps buy your pipes or any entrances that bugs might get in from. Also, I learned that certain bugs (like spiders) do not like peppermint. I have taken a water bottle and filled it with water and peppermint essential oil (about 15 drops for every cup of water) and I spray it along my base boards once a week. Also gives your house a nice smell. As for the rodents, nothing I can do. They are in my walls. They are in everyones walls here and housing nor the AF seem to care. Hope this helps Maria.

  • Lauren

    Oh my gosh, y’all are not alone. Come to Fort Benning and check out what they ask us to live in. We fought to get into on-base housing as this is our first duty station as a married couple, and my husband wanted to be close to work. Had we known what we were in for, we never would have put our names on the list. The shiny new developments are apparently wonderful, but we are stuck in the tired drab townhome that hasn’t been updated since the ’60s. Institutional laminate floor tile, pistachio green bathroom tile, doorknobs that don’t match. And today, the maintenance man was here to discover that the sheet rock in my upstairs bathroom is completely shot and you can see through to the floor below. This is what they get $1300 a month for? Lovely.

  • RJM

    My family is just now clearing Fort Wainwright. The new housing is gorgeous and dreamy. But we don’t live there. We live in the old housing built 50+ years ago. Lots of asbestos in the basement. The carpeting is scary. I have to dust 3x a week because Fairbanks is literally a dirty little town. When the wind blows it blows a lot of dirt with it. So while yes Ft. Wainwright has lovely housing, it also has rotten housing.

  • Daphne

    I live in privatized housing on NASJRB Fort Worth (formally Carswell AFB) and the house is absolutely ridiculous for how much we’re paying. Our BAH is $1625 and not only do they get the entire thing but we have to pay electricity on top of that. We live in the smallest 2 bedroom/1 bathroom/no garage 50+ year old house. I did a search today to find out how much the house we live in would cost if it was off base and found out that this house should only be $750!!!!! I am absolutely apauld. Oh and on top of everything else, the dishwasher has never worked right since we’ve been there (they said we just had to clean it), for some reason the ice maker makes really bad tasteing ice and the heater/ac goes out all the time. We are currently looking for a house off base, hopefully we’ll find one really soon.

  • Guest

    I sure hope privatized housing is saving the government a fortune. Bad stuff. Stationed at a Navy base during the turnover to Lincoln . 40- 50+ year old housing, Navy did a great job of keeping it maintained. Husband was CO so Lincoln totally sucked up to us; not so good for everyone. Thankfully spouses liked me and found me approachable so I heard the problems, repeated them to husband, he moved things along. If you are having trouble with privatized, have your service member take it up the official chain of command; it doesn’t have to go to the CO, just happened to be convenient for me!. And document every trouble call, every conversation. We all need to help fix this. Please be part of the solution, not just complain about the problem. Thanks to all who serve – this means YOU!

    • YZP

      The problem is getting anyone in the chain of command to care. They have gone to the housing meetings. They have heard our complaints and they just don’t care because they dont really have to deal with it anymore. Or maybe that is just this base. Who knows. I just think it is really crappy that we HAVE these complaints! I think it is horrible that a company would willingly put service members into houses like these. These men and women sacrifice a lot and I don’t think it is too much to offer them appropriate living quarters. Nothing super fancy, but enough room for a family to live comfortably and not on top of each other. A kitchen that is big enough to actually cook in without having things stacked between 2 small counters. Deployments and PCS’s are hard enough. Lets give these families something to feel comfortable in and can happily call “home” for the time they are there.

  • Latarsha

    Well I am late to this but here’s my 2 cents… We are stationed in San Diego and let me start by saying that the cost for the home doesn’t add up. The homes are small, have plastic “vinyls” floors that rips when furniture is moved or the kids run through the house. Some units you have only one access to your backyard and that’s through your front door or knocking on your neighbors door and asking can you cut through their yard to get to yours. Then there’s the crappy schools which are “C-D ” at best. I have friends that took out loans to send their kids to private school to get a decent education. Forget wanting to live near your work if you work over in Coronado because unless you’ve hit the lottery then that option is out. The wait list is 3 years and you can’t live in housing while your on the wait list. The cost for Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is so Expensive it is ridiculous.