WIESBADEN, Germany - A year ago the Wiesbaden Chamber of Commerce (Industrie und Handelskammer) hosted members of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden as they addressed a room bursting at the seams full of business leaders and interested citizens curious about the influx of U.S. military community members to the Hessen capital.
The information outreach was aimed at providing a better understanding of the U.S. Army Europe transformation effort in Wiesbaden and a platform for better connecting Germans and Americans and local business support.
Twelve months later -- this time it was USAG Wiesbaden hosting a packed room full of property owners and realtors in an effort to generate a wider range of off-post housing choices for those moving to the Wiesbaden area.
Speaking in German, garrison commander Col. David Carstens, welcomed the around 200 people who came to the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center Feb. 20 to learn exactly how the Army's off-post Housing Office operates.
"I'm delighted to see so many of you here," said Carstens, explaining that the positive feedback generated from last year's Chamber of Commerce assembly "was overwhelming. Many good ideas and partnerships have developed within the past year."
Positive results of last year's outreach have included many more English-language websites, local businesses advertising that English is spoken and identifying more host nation facilities that accept the Value Added Tax forms.
With the expected influx of the majority of USAREUR Soldiers, civilians and families from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden this spring, Carstens said it is in the interest of the garrison's Housing Office to make it as seamless as possible to connect property owners with potential renters.
Housing Manager Donald Meyer described the process for getting a rental property registered in the Army's Automated Housing Referral Network.
"We have more than 1,000 objects in our system," Meyer said, adding that about 700 additional units are sought to serve those who will be arriving in Wiesbaden in the future and living off post.
"We're trying as much as possible to house our families in the existing Army Family Housing," he said, explaining that with ongoing renovations and other factors, the need for off-post housing remains.
Following the presentation, Meyer fielded a range of questions ranging from the needs of those coming into Wiesbaden to what benefit registering with the Housing Office would provide rental property owners.
Meyer explained that with most Soldiers and civilians serving from three to five years on an assignment, the owners are guaranteed stability and continuation in occupancy once a tenant departs.
With an obvious interest and mutual benefit on both sides, officials said a similar event will be held in the near future to attract even greater interest and partnership in the search for available housing.