Providing quality and affordable housing for Airmen and their families is vital for two reasons, said Maj. Gen Brad Spacy, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center commander.
“Quality housing helps the U.S. Air Force recruit and retain members, and support for our Airmen and their families enables senior leaders to focus on the core mission of Fly, Fight and Win in Air, Space and Cyberspace,” said Spacy, who delivered the keynote address during the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Housing Privatization Lessons Learned Workshop, held May 2-5 in San Antonio.
The general praised housing managers and project owners in attendance for protecting Airmen and their families by providing affordable, well-maintained housing.
Workshop topics included a housing privatization overview, fair housing laws, utility allowance, and tenant leases and handbooks, among other topics. A leadership panel featuring Maj. Gen. Spacy; Robert Moriarty, AFCEC installations director; Jennifer Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations; and Col. Michael Beach, AFCEC housing division chief, also answered questions and addressed concerns from the audience.
“This past year, our main priority was to increase communications with privatized housing stakeholders by attending semi-annual meetings and monthly teleconferences with Project Owners, and base housing management offices to quickly address any project concerns,” Beach said. “We hosted this training event for base-level Housing Management Offices, or HMOs, and Project Owner staff as a great opportunity for program leaders to provide updates on policy changes and share best practices. The collaboration helps sustain the privatized housing program to make certain of long-term viability and assures installation commanders, especially new commanders, we are providing military families access to safe, quality, affordable, well-maintained housing.”
Moriarty stressed the importance of continuing education and training for the housing managers and project owners and added the plan is to hold workshops every two to three years.
“The Air Force goal remains the same: To provide military families access to safe, quality, affordable, well-maintained housing where they choose to live,” Moriarty said. “Although we have responsibility for program management, execution and oversight at individual bases is still performed through the installation team. This all starts with a strong team at the base level between the project owner and the installation.”
Since the Military Housing Privatization Initiative was signed into law in 1996, the U.S. Air Force has leveraged $619 million into an $8.3 billion portfolio and completed 32 projects at 63 installations for a total of 53,240 units. In 2016, 852 new homes were built; 741 obsolete units demolished; 506 renovations completed; and 40 site visits were conducted.
Despite the U.S. Air Force’s housing privatization success, Moriarty emphasized the importance of building and maintaining personal relationships with the project owners and program managers for the installations.
“It all starts with the relationship, not just with the project owner, but whoever your project manager is for your installation,” he said. “You’re not dealing with AFCEC. You’re dealing with Charlie, or Sue, or Tom, or whoever. That’s who AFCEC is to you. That’s the face of AFCEC. That’s important for me personally to have that relationship established. We’re a big organization, but we get real small when you get down to how we’re tasked and organized.”
While the goals and objectives of housing Airmen remains the same, Moriarty said, the emphasis has changed.
“Now, we have to focus on long-term sustainability,” he said. “That’s providing good quality service and making sound financial decisions. The decisions we make today impact the projects tomorrow. We have to make good decisions today that won’t doom the projects in 10 years. The Airman who isn’t born yet, who is going to live in that home, needs to have the good stuff we have today. We have to work with the project owner to ensure the long-term financial viability of the projects.”