This year proved to be pivotal for the privatized military housing industry and the valued military families living in our communities. Military housing providers overcame challenges presented by the pandemic and adapted their operations to continuously deliver high-quality services for residents. At the same time, Military Housing Association (MHA) member companies worked tirelessly to create new industry-leading services and standards critical to implementing the Tenant Bill of Rights and increasing investments to improve Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) housing. The innovative structure of the MHPI business partnerships facilitated ongoing investment to improve communities by building new homes and renovating others.
Here’s a look at how MHA member companies worked to strengthen military housing communities in 2021.
Providing Essential Services Throughout the Pandemic. Through 2021, the industry continued to provide critical housing services despite the impact of the pandemic on installations across the country. In March, MHA senior advisor Gen. John Campbell (U.S. Army-Ret.) detailed some of the solutions that housing providers implemented in response to the pandemic-related challenges. Over the past nearly two years, essential employees maintained operations by responding to service requests, processing move-ins and move-outs and remaining on-site to support residents, even when offices were closed to the public. Additionally, housing providers continued to offer virtual programs and drive-through events that allowed residents to socialize and stay active within their community.
Implementing Best Practices & Industry-Leading Services. After more than a year of collaboration through the MHA’s industry forum, all member companies successfully implemented every element of the Tenant Bill of Rights (TBOR). The new Universal Lease template, which was developed in partnership with the Department of Defense and service branch partners, simplifies the leasing process by offering documentation that is consistent across all military housing communities and providers. Additionally, the 7-year maintenance history provides unprecedented transparency to service members as they decide where to live after transferring to a new duty station. Providing this level of rental unit work history to prospective residents has never been done on this scale in either the military or civilian rental markets. Hear from member company employees as they explain our industry’s commitment to the Tenant Bill of Rights.
Investments in Communities and Installation Resiliency. This year, our member companies continued to invest in communities to improve housing for our service members and their families. MHPI business partnerships invested millions of dollars to renovate hundreds of older homes, build new ones, and provide upgraded community amenities like playgrounds and common areas.
In recent years, severe weather events have required MHPI partners to commit substantial resources to repair homes and community facilities. In the wake of this year’s devastating storms, housing providers ensured that homes were repaired quickly and military families were taken care of during their time of need. Our member companies also continue to invest in long-term solutions to help combat the effects of extreme weather events on military housing. The MHA strongly supports the Department of Defense’s goal to increase installation energy resiliency in part by investing in sustainability initiatives like energy efficient housing and solar power generation.
Welcoming A New Member Company. This year, we proudly welcomed The Michaels Organization as a new MHA Member Company. Michaels recently acquired more than 15,000 homes on eight installations serving Army, Navy, and Air Force families.
Expanding Educational Resources. MHA strives to be the go-to educational resource for information about the MHPI and the industry’s priorities. This year, we created additional online resources to provide information to military families and policymakers. Our new Fact Sheet page acts as a hub for policymakers to learn about the MHPI, including how privatized military housing business partnerships operate and how the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) delivers value for MHPI residents. Our new installation database consolidates information about all member company installations in one place, searchable by company and by state, and exists to assist military families seeking housing information during a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move.
Policy Spotlight: A Continued Focus to Strengthen the BAH. As the cost of rental units across the country rises, the MHA recognizes the need for the BAH to accurately reflect local market rates and cover 100% of housing costs for service members. Many service members are reporting that BAH does not match the cost of living in their local area. In addition, costs to build, renovate, and maintain MHPI projects are rapidly rising with many member companies reporting a 8-12% increase in the cost of materials in 2021.These price hikes impact the cost of maintenance for MHPI projects and can directly impact development plans if rental market rates continue to outpace BAH rate increases. The MHA will continue to prioritize BAH reform by recommending that BAH cover 100% of housing costs for service members and calling for greater transparency in the BAH rate determination process.