ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The terms Residential Communities Initiative, or RCI, and privatized Family housing are now being used at Aberdeen Proving Ground. They both have to do with a new program that will change the face of Family housing on post over the next 50 years.

In the mid 1990s, the federal government realized that in order to retain service members, their quality of life had to improve on the installations. Building better homes and making significant renovations and improvements to existing homes could accomplish this.

The government also knew it did not have the means to achieve this goal and decided to privatize military Family housing on installations. Privatization means that private sector expertise and private financing could be brought on post by private sector partners to improve the Family housing situation faster than the government could do it.

The Army established the Residential Communities Initiative to partner with private developers. In 2008, the Army and APG selected Picerne Military Housing as its partner to build, own, renovate, manage and maintain Family housing on post for the next 50 years.

"The partnership is long-term and focused on the sustainability of housing and enhancing the quality of Family and community life for Aberdeen Proving Ground's Soldiers and their Families," said Greg Cannito, Picerne Military Housing Program director.

Aberdeen Proving Ground and Picerne worked together to develop the Community Development and Management Plan, which is the blueprint for the 50 years of the project. The CDMP's final approval by Congress was announced on Oct. 10, which means Picerne will assume responsibility for the Family housing at APG on Dec. 1.

"We have gone to great lengths during the planning phase to ensure that neighborhoods are designed to create homes that appeal to today's modern, military Families," Cannito said.

What will this mean for Families living on post'

As in the private sector, Soldiers will sign a lease and will start receiving their Basic Allowance for Housing to pay rent for the homes they live in on post. The rent equals the BAH received by the service member and includes basic utilities and some renter's insurance. (See article on BAH this page.)

The lease, called the Resident Occupancy Agreement, is for 12 months and renews month to month unless PCS, ETS or retirement orders require earlier termination. To live in privatized Family housing, residents must sign a lease prior to Dec. 1.

"When Picerne begins managing Family housing, residents will see positive changes beginning day one," Cannito said. "Our neighborhood management office is now open and staffed with professional teams dedicated to providing Soldiers and their Families with exceptional service."

Picerne's property management and maintenance staff is located at 2727 Chesapeake Boulevard. Eventually, a new Neighborhood Center will be constructed in the new neighborhood that will be built in Bayside.

An immediate maintenance plan will be implemented to alleviate the deferred maintenance and other maintenance concerns of residents. Picerne will also mow the lawns, do the landscaping, enhance street lighting, repair streets and sidewalks and build new playgrounds. These services are an expression of Picerne's Families First® philosophy.