More than the basics: Commemorating 20 years of housing privatization

The home of retired Col. Robert Moriarty and his family at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in 2006, when base housing was still government-owned and operated. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home was conveyed to Clark Realty in 2007 under Military Housing Privatization Initiative legislation. The Moriarty’s old home is no longer standing. It was one of the ones demolished by Clark Realty during the project’s initial development phase to make room for higher-quality new homes, managed by Harbor Bay. (Photo courtesy of the Moriarty family)

The home of retired Col. Robert Moriarty and his family at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in 2006, when base housing was still government-owned and operated. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home was conveyed to Clark Realty in 2007 under Military Housing Privatization Initiative legislation. The Moriarty’s old home is no longer standing. It was one of the ones demolished by Clark Realty during the project’s initial development phase to make room for higher-quality new homes, managed by Harbor Bay. (Photo courtesy of the Moriarty family)

Retired Col. Robert Moriarty and his children, Ryan and Lauren, decorate for Christmas in the living room of their home at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida in December 2006. Like many military families, Moriarty missed a number of holidays with his family during his active-duty years. “The home is the heart of a family — it’s where celebrations take place and memories are made. Our Airmen and their families deserve to live and make memories in quality homes,” said Moriarty, who today serves as the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Installations Director and housing privatization program execution office. (Photo courtesy of the Moriarty family)

Retired Col. Robert Moriarty and his children, Ryan and Lauren, decorate for Christmas in the living room of their home at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida in December 2006. Like many military families, Moriarty missed a number of holidays with his family during his active-duty years. “The home is the heart of a family — it’s where celebrations take place and memories are made. Our Airmen and their families deserve to live and make memories in quality homes,” said Moriarty, who today serves as the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Installations Director and housing privatization program execution office. (Photo courtesy of the Moriarty family)

An example of the new homes constructed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, after Clark Realty took over ownership, and Harbor Bay the management, in 2007. Constructed in 2011, the duplex in the Freedom Cove neighborhood houses junior non-commissioned officers. The 2,100-square-foot homes include four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a screened in porch, laminate floors and Energy Star-rated appliances.  (Photo courtesy of Nick Leabo/Harbor Bay)

An example of the new homes constructed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, after Clark Realty took over ownership, and Harbor Bay the management, in 2007. Constructed in 2011, the duplex in the Freedom Cove neighborhood houses junior non-commissioned officers. The 2,100-square-foot homes include four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a screened in porch, laminate floors and Energy Star-rated appliances. (Photo courtesy of Nick Leabo/Harbor Bay)

The Pepper family — Senior Airman Chance Pepper; his wife, Kaylee and children Able, Gabriel and Delaney — live in one of the duplex’s in the Freedom Cove neighborhood at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The Pepper’s 2,100-square-foot home includes four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a screened in porch, laminate floors and Energy Star-rated appliances. (Photo courtesy of Nick Leabo/Harbor Bay)

The Pepper family — Senior Airman Chance Pepper; his wife, Kaylee and children Able, Gabriel and Delaney — live in one of the duplex’s in the Freedom Cove neighborhood at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The Pepper’s 2,100-square-foot home includes four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a screened in porch, laminate floors and Energy Star-rated appliances. (Photo courtesy of Nick Leabo/Harbor Bay)

Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, boasts one of the strongest projects in the Air Force. In addition to sound financials, the base and their project owner partners also received the highest resident satisfaction score for 2015, with a rating of “exceptional.” Owned by Lend Lease Communities and operated by Tierra Vista Communities, residents at Peterson enjoy a number of amenities, including 10 playgrounds, three basketball courts, a tennis court, a splash park and ample greenspace and other common areas for families to gather and play. (Photo courtesy of Tierra Vista Communities)

Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, boasts one of the strongest projects in the Air Force. In addition to sound financials, the base and their project owner partners also received the highest resident satisfaction score for 2015, with a rating of “exceptional.” Owned by Lend Lease Communities and operated by Tierra Vista Communities, residents at Peterson enjoy a number of amenities, including 10 playgrounds, three basketball courts, a tennis court, a splash park and ample greenspace and other common areas for families to gather and play. (Photo courtesy of Tierra Vista Communities)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Whiteman resident Jaclyn Stubbs and her daughter, Julia, take a break on the porch of their neighborhood’s new community center during the facility’s grand opening celebration July 1. The 2,500 square foot facility is the latest addition to a growing number of amenities offered by project owner Balfour Beatty Communities. (Photo courtesy of Balfour Beatty Communities)

Jaclyn Stubbs and her daughter, Julia, take a break on the porch of their neighborhood’s new community center at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, during a community event in July 2014 hosted by project owner Balfour Beatty Communities. (Photo courtesy of Balfour Beatty Communities)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Whiteman’s youngest residents enjoy cooling off in the neighborhood splash pad during a community celebration hosted by Balfour Beatty Communities July 1. The celebration marked the opening of the new neighborhood center. The 2,500 -quare foot complex houses a conference room and a multi-purpose entertainment room equipped with a flat screen television, chalkboard wall, table and chairs, and an attached kitchenette. (Photo courtesy of Balfour Beatty Communities)

Younger residents at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, enjoy cooling off in the neighborhood splash pad during a community celebration hosted by Balfour Beatty Communities in July 2014. (Photo courtesy of Balfour Beatty Communities)

Leadership from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, joined privatized housing project owner partner, Corvias Military Living, for a groundbreaking ceremony March 20, 2015. The event marked the start of construction of 747 new homes and a 12,000-square-foot state-of-the-art community center. (Photo Courtesy of Corvias Military Living)

Leadership from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, joined privatized housing project owner partner, Corvias Military Living, for a groundbreaking ceremony March 20, 2015. The event marked the start of construction of 747 new homes and a 12,000-square-foot state-of-the-art community center. (Photo Courtesy of Corvias Military Living)

Contractors apply concrete on the decking of a new swimming pool at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The pool is part of a new privatized base housing neighborhood opening at the base that includes a 12,000-square-foot community center.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Carole Chiles Fuller/Released)

Contractors apply concrete on the decking of a new swimming pool at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in March 2016. The pool is part of a new privatized base housing neighborhood opening at the base that includes a 12,000-square-foot community center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Carole Chiles Fuller/Released)

Master Sgt. Kenny Ketcham, an Air Force Lifecycle Management Center logistics superintendent, helps move furniture into his new home April 7. Ketcham and his family were part of the first wave of families to move into the privatized homes on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The new development will include multiple playgrounds, a dog-friendly “bark” park, a community center with a fitness room, and a pool. The entire community is estimated to be completed by 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Jasmine Porterfield)
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Master Sgt. Kenny Ketcham, an Air Force Lifecycle Management Center logistics superintendent, helps move furniture into his brand new, privatized home at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, April 7, 2016. Ketcham and his family were part of the first wave of families to move into the new development, which is owned and operated by Corvias Military Living. Once complete, the new development will include multiple playgrounds, a dog-friendly “bark” park, a community center with a fitness room and a pool. The entire community is estimated to be completed by 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Jasmine Porterfield/Released)

Before military housing privatization, approximately 60 percent of homes at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, fell below established Air Force housing standards — some were even termite infested. Following the Military Housing Privatization Initiative of 1996, Lackland was selected as the Air Force’s inaugural privatized project. The top photo shows a government-owned and operated home at Lackland prior to privatization. Below is a privatized home today at Lackland: constructed, owned and managed by Balfour Beatty Communities. (Courtesy photos)
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Before military housing privatization, approximately 60 percent of homes at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, fell below established Air Force housing standards — some were even termite infested. Following the Military Housing Privatization Initiative of 1996, Lackland was selected as the Air Force’s inaugural privatized project. The top photo shows a government-owned and operated home at Lackland prior to privatization. Below is a privatized home today at Lackland: constructed, owned and managed by Balfour Beatty Communities. (Courtesy photos)

The Air Force privatized housing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, in April 2003. Through privatization, the Air Force conveyed 1,784 homes to Hunt Building Corporation and management and operation to Kirtland Military Housing — an entity of HBC.  KFH demolished 1,572 units, constructed 868 new units and took control of 211 existing units in the initial development phase. The top photo depicts base housing before privatization, and below after KMH completed the initial development phase. (Courtesy photos)
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The Air Force privatized housing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, in April 2003. Through privatization, the Air Force conveyed 1,784 homes to Hunt Building Corporation and management and operation to Kirtland Military Housing — an entity of HBC. KFH demolished 1,572 units, constructed 868 new units and took control of 211 existing units in the initial development phase. The top photo depicts base housing before privatization, and below after KMH completed the initial development phase. (Courtesy photos)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- When Master Sgt. Meloney Natal and her children prepared for a permanent change of station to Hurlburt Field, Florida, in May 2015, the search for a home led Natal to Corvias Military Living.

The safety, customer service and strong sense of military community is what sold Natal on military privatized housing.

"The Corvias team has been great to us," Natal said. "Anytime I need anything, when it comes to setting up the house or anything is going wrong, they are there fixing it within that day."

2016 marks 20 years since Congress passed the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, giving the military authority to use private sector expertise and funding to eliminate inadequate housing and improve the quality of life for service members and their families. 

Before privatization, the Air Force estimates 50 percent of its housing inventory fell below established Air Force housing standards. The privatization program the Air Force developed and improved over the next two decades established a higher standard of living for Air Force families.

Centrally managed out of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the program currently boasts an overall resident satisfaction rating of "very good"-- rising two service levels over the past decade as more privatized projects renovated or built new homes.

"Resident satisfaction is the prime indicator of program success," said Robert Moriarty, AFCEC's Installations Director. "The program centers on providing quality customer service and building thriving communities."

The directorate's program execution office accomplishes this by working closely with installations and their respective project owner partners, Moriarty said.

Two decades, $8.3 billion and 53,240 homes later, the Air Force is 100 units away from privatizing 100 percent of family housing for contiguous U.S. bases, Alaska and Hawaii.

Back in 1996, Chad Gemeinhardt was a senior graduating from Bitburg American High School in Germany, where his father commanded the 52nd Security Forces Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base. That summer, as the Air Force began planning a trial project, Gemeinhardt headed to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship in civil engineering.

With plenty of Air Force housing experience already under his belt due to his father's service, Gemeinhardt had plenty more to come.

Today, Gemeinhardt commands the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. As the base CE, Gemeinhardt works with AFCEC and the PO, Lend Lease (US) Public Partnerships, to ensure Airmen in privatized homes are properly cared for and the project remains viable.

"Privatization has been huge in providing higher-level housing, and better-quality housing, for our residents and military residents across the Air Force," Gemeinhardt said.

Peterson boasts one of the strongest projects in the Air Force. In addition to sound financials, the base also received the highest resident satisfaction score for 2015, rating "exceptional."

In addition to improving the quality of homes and customer service, privatization also positively impacts the Space Command mission, Gemeinhardt said. By divesting the Air Force of maintenance and day-to-day housing operation responsibilities, base leaders are able to remain mission-focused while still retaining program oversight.

"Good customer service means taking good care of our residents and making sure we're providing them with the best place we possibly can for them to live," said Jerry Schmitz, senior vice president and general manager for Lend Lease - the PO for six installations, including Peterson, within the Air Force housing portfolio.

Facing deployments and extended separation from family, the military family situation is unique and requires specialized service, Schmitz said.

"We provide service to our residents 24/7 for any of the maintenance needs they have in their homes," he said. "We partner with the local command to make sure that we have programs for our residents that they can enjoy. We partner with the support services group and provide community activities, events and several programs that help the military families."

One such program is the Honey-Do Coupon Program offered by Corvias. The coupons allow residents to cash in time for non-routine maintenance assistance around the house.

"The honey-do coupons are amazing," Natal said. "I'm active duty, I'm a single mom, and sometimes there's just some things that I don't have ... I can't get done and I've placed in a 'honey-do.'"

From putting up curtains and hanging pictures, to landscaping and pest control, maintenance support alleviates a lot of stress and worry for her, she said.

While home design and layout, programs, amenities and services vary base-to-base, Moriarty said privatization ensures quality living is standard and Airmen have a choice -- the crux of the program.

"The connection between resident satisfaction and occupancy encourages our private-sector partners to provide quality service," Moriarty said.

As the heart of the Air Force mission, Airmen deserve the best housing experience the program can deliver, he said.

"We are a demanding customer, and we'll continue to be a demanding customer, as we advocate for our Airmen now and in the future," he added.