On-post housing opens to single Soldiers
August 1, 2008
FORT RUCKER, Ala.--Embracing the idea that every Soldier plays an important part in the Army Family, Fort Rucker's Picerne Military Housing recently opened all three Family housing neighborhoods to single Soldiers interested in living on post.
The Single Unaccompanied On-Post Housing Program currently offers three post housing options for single Soldiers, staff sergeant and above, with each option featuring different rent scales and amenities. The amenities vary from basic washer and dryer hook ups all the way to fully furnished homes that feature flat screen televisions, pots and pans and a monthly cleaning service. The rent scales vary based on a Soldier's Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate and the housing option they choose.
"This (program) has already been done with great success at Fort Meade (Md.)," Bob Frazier, Picerne Community Management Director, said.
Picerne first opened on post housing to single Soldiers in October when housing occupancy rates dipped past where they needed to be, according to Frazier.
"We are kind of a college campus in that there are a lot of singles who are coming to flight school and many of them are having to live off post," he said. "Opening the neighborhoods to (the single Soldiers) just seemed to be a natural solution to improve the low occupancy numbers."
Frazier said his team had been receiving housing inquiries for a long time from single Soldiers coming to Fort Rucker so they knew there was a housing need out there. That need, combined with a vision of former Fort Rucker Garrison Commander Col. Scott Larese and a low occupancy rate created the right environment for the single Soldier housing program to kick off late last year, he added.
"The program had mixed beginnings," Frazier said. "We got a lot of positive response but not a lot of takers early on so we kept trying to make the program better."
As the program evolved and word got out that single Soldiers could now live in Family housing, more and more Soldiers began taking advantage of the program.
In January, approximately 30 single Soldiers were living in the Fort Rucker neighborhoods. Today, that number is closer to 60.
Relaxing on the back patio of her home in Allen Heights last week, 2nd Lt. Jessica Owens reflected on why living in a fully furnished house on post was the right fit for her.
"I am excited to be so close to everything on post," Owens said. "I like to work out and, since I'm on post, I'm only five minutes away from the gym - sometimes I even run to the gym from home."
Owens, a Kentucky National Guard Soldier, arrived at Fort Rucker in April for flight school with nothing but a suitcase. As she investigated her housing options, she quickly found that there really wasn't anything that met her specific needs and budget.
"Initially, I looked everywhere off post and I (couldn't find anything that I liked within my budget)," she said. "I didn't have any furniture here with me and everything was pretty pricey. This was the cheapest place I found and it came furnished with all new furniture so I took it."
Owens pays $525, her BAH less $100, per month to live in a fully furnished two bedroom, two bath home she shares with a first lieutenant who is also going through flight school. Her roommate pays $905, her BAH less $100, for the house. In total, the roommates are paying about $1,430 for a fully furnished home that comes with a weekly lawn service and a monthly cleaning service.
With the $100 in BAH she isn't using for rent, Owens said she pays her cable and internet bills and has even had enough money to buy a television, a lap top computer and furniture to "dress up" her back patio.
"This really is a good value for a second lieutenant," she said. "I'm not sure about other grades, but for a second lieutenant, you can't beat it."
Opening Family housing to single Soldiers helps keep Fort Rucker occupancy rates up and, in doing so, keeps the housing program healthy, according to Frazier. If housing occupancy levels don't stay at a certain level or higher, fewer funds are available to keep Fort Rucker communities functioning successfully.
To ensure the continuing health and success of the housing program on Fort Rucker, officials are already looking into the possibility of expanding the single Soldier on-post housing program to include retirees and Department of the Army civilians who are interested in living on post.
"As we still have a need to build our occupancy, having retirees move into housing may become an option," Frazier said. "We have already had some inquiries from DoD civilians in the past and it is something we are talking about right now."
Frazier said a final decision on retiree and DoD civilian on-post housing options should be announced in the near future.
Regardless of who is eligible to live in housing, however, Frazier said Picerne's top priority will remain active-duty Families.
"Our top priority will always be our Families and this program benefits the Families from the financial stability standpoint," he said. "The higher the occupancy rate, the more funds that are available to support the program, the better the quality of life at Fort Rucker."
For more information about single Soldier housing options available through Picerne Military Housing, visit www.ruckerpicerne.com.