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Local News

Vandenberg Air Force Base Housing Opening To Retirees, Civil Servants

Drop in military occupancy rate prompts policy switch for residences leased by private housing management company

With declining housing demand among Vandenberg Air Force Base personnel, the base is expanding its leasing pool to include federal civil service employees and retiree applicants. Available houses include those with two, three and four bedrooms. Click to view larger
With declining housing demand among Vandenberg Air Force Base personnel, the base is expanding its leasing pool to include federal civil service employees and retiree applicants. Available houses include those with two, three and four bedrooms. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Vandenberg Air Force Base houses, once restricted to military members, will open up to retirees and federal civil service employees to boost occupancy.

The switch comes at a time when the leasing company handling the privatized housing has seen a drop in the number of residents over the last six months, according to information posted on Vandenberg’s website.

“The money the project gains through occupancy pays for all the normal bills,” said Gretchen Swinehart, Air Force housing management chief of the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron.

“Money left over goes into a reinvestment account to sustain the homes long term.”

In 2007, Vandenberg officials and representatives of GMH Communities Trust, which later sold its military family housing segment to Balfour Beatty Communities, entered into a 50-year lease to privatize housing for active-duty military members with dependents.

Amid tight budgets, Congress decided in the mid-1990s that the Defense Department should link up with private companies to act as landlords while building new homes, fixing up run-down structures and demolishing old ones deemed too decrepit to repair.

The goal was to improve the quality of life for military members with hopes that a private developer could complete projects quicker than the military, officials said at the time.

Military members living in the privatized residences pay rent equal to the housing allowance they receive. That allowance is based on location, pay grade and number of dependents.

In 2011, with housing numbers low, Vandenberg officials opened up housing to single military members along with National Guard and Reserves personnel.

However, numbers remain low due to Air Force cutbacks and other changes.

Vandenberg Air Force Base’s privatized housing includes amenities like a community center. Click to view larger
Vandenberg Air Force Base’s privatized housing includes amenities like a community center. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Base housing boasts a 92 percent occupancy rate at Vandenberg, Swinehart said. Balfour Beatty Communities officials say they need a 98 percent occupancy rate.

Projections call for more than 100 vacancies in junior noncommissioned officer homes, officials said. The waiting list has 15 people with move-in dates.

Available houses are included on the BBCs Vandenberg Family Housing website.

Federal civil service employees and retiree applicants will be housed in the Junior NCO communities of Atlimira and Capistrano, officials said. Applications for these neighborhoods are being accepted now.

Available houses include those with two, three and four bedrooms, with leases expected to be for one year before making the transition to month to month.

Despite now allowing retirees and civil servants, BBC and Vandenberg officials say active-duty military members remain the priority and would not be rejected in favor of the new residents.

“The lease agreement will be for one year,” Swinehart said. “At the end of the term, if we need the house for a military member, the current resident will be given a 30-day notice to vacate.”

Recognizing there will be inquiries and concerns about the new initiative, BBC has said applicants must go through background checks by the 30th Security Forces Squadron.

Applicants also must be Common Access Card/federal card holders with existing access to the base.

For more information, contact the 30th CES Air Force Housing Management Office at 805.606.3434 or email [email protected].

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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