FORT HOOD, Texas - About a year ago, the Housing Services Office here initiated the Military Value Program, or MVP, to assist Soldiers and their families with affordable temporary living arrangements upon arrival in Central Texas.
Otis Rockmore, chief of the Housing Services Office, said a similar program was being used when he worked for the U.S. Navy in San Diego. He brought the concept with him to the Great Place and started MVP here, the first post, he believes, to utilize the program in the Army.
The program became even more important heading into the peak season for permanent change of station movements this summer, as waiting times for housing in the area and on the installation have lengthened. Rockmore said the program utilizes area hotels, Airbnb options and fully-furnished “corporate” apartments, all of which charge rates at or near the basic allowance for housing rate in the area, keeping out-of-pocket expenses down for incoming service members and their families.
“It all started out with the hotels,” Rockmore said, adding that 116 Soldiers and their families have benefitted from the MVP program already. “The best thing that happened was when we teamed up with GRT (Property Management), Copper Mountain and Twin Creeks. They were kind of the test bed. As they had apartments become available, they converted them into corporate units.”
And it isn’t just Army families on awaiting permanent housing who have benefitted from this program.
Staff Sgt. Bryon McGainey, an Army Reserve noncommissioned officer called onto active duty from Richmond, Virginia, now serving with First Army Division West as an operations NCO, was among the first to take advantage of MVP. He lives in the Copper Mountain apartment complex in Killeen, Texas.
“I think I came in at the beginning,” the 58-year-old single Soldier said. “Initially, I didn’t know they had the corporate situation. I thought I would have to come in, (and) buy furniture. I was looking at the expense of having to do that all that if I was only going to be here for a year and it just didn’t make sense. When they told me about the corporate situation, … that was perfect for me.”
McGainey’s tour at Fort Hood has been extended, so he recently extended his tenancy within the program. His rent is even more affordable now, as he has a roommate to share the cost, another staff sergeant within the Div. West headquarters.
“It’s beautiful. I love it,” McGainey said. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Robert Todd, housing manager with the Housing Services Office, said MVP now has more than 400 units at multiple properties, 50 of those being corporate apartments. He said commanders and first sergeants are briefed on the program during their command course, and each newcomer receives information about their options upon arrival. The Housing Services Office also has a digital welcome packet on their webpage, which can be found at https://home.army.mil/hood/index.php/units-tenants/Garrison-1/DPW/HSO.
Another program helping to alleviate stress on Soldiers and their families as they move to their new duty assignment in Central Texas is the Rental Partnership Program, which has been an ongoing effort for more than a decade to help provide affordable permanent homes for troops residing off the installation.
“(It) actually does three things,” Robert Todd, housing manager with the Housing Services Office, said. “The three most important things are, one, the upfront cost savings to service members as they’re moving in during peak PCS season; two, (helping) service members who have no credit; and the third one is (helping) service members who have bad credit.
“It allows them to get into places where they would not normally qualify for,” he added, “because it waives a lot of the upfront fees, application fees, security deposits, background checks and, basically, once you sign up for the program, everything is processed through the Housing Services Office.”
Todd, a retired command sergeant major, said he returned to government service with the Fort Hood Housing Services Office in order to continue to help Soldiers and their families.
Rockmore, an Air Force retiree, said he’s optimistic that both housing programs will continue to expand its reach as more properties are added through partnerships with property management firms.
“We totally understand that housing is the number one issue when you PCS,” Rockmore said. “It makes me feel great, because as housing professionals, that’s our bread and butter.”