Housing standards improve in Area I
February 28, 2010
RED CLOUD GARRISON - Col. Larry 'Pepper' Jackson, Red Cloud Garrison commander, and the Red Cloud Housing Office have made numerous changes in a process to improve the quality of life for Soldiers and their Families living off post in Dongducheon, Uijeongbu, and Yangju.
Two of the major problems Jackson felt needed to be addressed were a raise in the Overseas Housing Allowance given to Soldiers for leasing apartments, and inspections of living conditions made by a Red Cloud Housing inspector.
Prior to Jackson's arrival in Korea, Clara Greenway, Red Cloud Housing Division chief, explained Soldiers were living in inadequate housing space because OHA was not enough. However, Jackson contacted the per diem committee to have the issue changed.
Before the Housing Office hired inspectors, it was the responsibility of the Soldiers chain of command to come to the Soldiers quarters and conduct the inspection themselves. In most cases, the unit would not know what the housing standards were and whether or a not a Soldier was living in adequate quarters, which left Soldiers to make a decision based on their opinion.
"I think it is better to have a housing employee coming out to inspect, because they know the living standards in this area," said Pvt. Rickey Nichols, Headquarters Support Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division motor transport operator. "Everyone has different lifestyles and the way they like they to live. Our chain of command might want something completely different than what we want or what is standard."
Greenway also added that her Housing Office employees try to make sure the Soldiers feel comfortable with their decision. Greenway spoke of how some Soldiers in the excitement of having their families come with them to Korea, look at one apartment off post and make their decision on the spot that this is the home they want to live in. Greenway and her staff urge Soldiers to look at more than one housing complex; visit a variety of realtors before choosing which home is the best for them.
Nichols first heard of the Su Jain apartment complex in Yangju from Spc. Lawrence Cutts, 2ID HHSC DSTB human resources specialist, which was first shown the complex. Yangju is a city outside of Uijeongbu neighboring Red Cloud Garrison. After going to see other apartments near Red Cloud, Nichols accompanied Cutts to Su Jain to see what kind of home Cutts was going to be living in. Nichols immediately asked Kim, Sun-nam, the real estate agent from Cherry Realty, if there were any smaller apartments available.
"Money was never an issue in deciding which home would be best for my family," Nichols said. "I am not really sure what the rates are for OHA, because money wasn't a concern. I decided in what area to live based off what I felt my family would like and feel comfortable in. Su Jain has attractive apartments, and after talking it over with my family, we decided to move there."
When Jackson arrived in the summer of 2007, he directed Housing to find quality realtors to help Soldiers find better apartments to improve their living conditions.
"Col. Jackson convinced the per diem committee to increase OHA entitlements and rates for Area I Soldiers," Greenway said. "We also filled a position for an inspector to ensure Soldiers live in adequate housing. In the past, Soldiers would go to any realtor and find a lease that OHA money would afford them. As a result, many of them were living in inadequate apartments."
With the assistance and support from Jackson and the chain of command, Greenway and the Housing Office helped many Soldiers find better apartments off post. They have increased the number of suitable realtors to more than 15.
The Army Housing Mission is to enhance readiness through the development, interpretation, revision, and implementation of Army personnel housing policies in support of Soldiers, Families, and other Army housing customers.
To ensure that adequate and equitable off-post housing (primary source) as well as Family and unaccompanied on-post housing is received upon availability.
Department of Defense (DOD) and Army "personnel" housing policies concerning housing eligibility, equal opportunity, assignment, adequacy, occupancy, and termination are equitable and reasonable.
The personnel housing policies (G-1) and the facilities housing program (OACSIM) comprise one of the critical building blocks of Soldier/Family well-being.
Changes to either the personnel policies or the facilities program must be fully researched and coordinated prior to any attempt to implement.
There must be no opportunity for a real or perceived erosion of the single Soldier or Soldier/Family levels of living.
The DOD Housing Manual (DOD 4165.63M) is the foundation for Army Regulation (AR 420-1), Army Facilities Management, dated 2 November 2007.
This regulation replaced the previous Army Housing Management directive (AR 210-50).
The other military services also base their housing regulations on the DOD Manual.
AR 420-1 is a well-balanced, effective policy, management, and operational tool, which strives to help Soldiers and Families.