Fort Bragg 'Hammers Out' New Housing Plan
Posted August 13, 2001 4:35 a.m. EDT
FORT BRAGG — More than 3,000 soldiers are on a waiting list to live on post. New construction at Fort Bragg will reduce that list by a third. In order to make that happen, the military will use private developers to get the work done cheaper and quicker than the government could.
The lack of space and privacy are two big complaints for military wife Heather Hawthorne. Her family lives in Fort Bragg housing that was built in the late 1950s. Their 950-square-foot home has three small bedrooms and just one bathroom.
"Even though it's our choice to live on post, we still have a right to have a nice place to live in because they're serving our country," she says.
Project Manager Mike Ackerman says air conditioners on top of small storage sheds outside and old plumbing are other issues. Fort Bragg says it would be too costly to renovate the outdated homes, so the best option is to tear them down.
As part of a Defense Department Housing initiative, it will privatize new housing on post.
"They're experts in the financing arena and we are not. And with using local building codes, they can do it a lot faster," he says.
The Defense Department would like to see private developers build military communities that look like city neighborhoods. The government started doing that at Fort Bragg in 1999.
Military spouse Janine Smith says her family has more privacy at her house. With 1,200 square feet, her home is big enough for kids, dogs and guests.
"It's nice to be attached to the military but detached," she says.
Privatizing has already been tested at four other installations. Fort Bragg hopes to launch its program in two years. Bragg officials say crumbling housing is a militarywide issue. Some estimates say it would take more than $6 billion to completely update military housing.