Fort Campbell leadership participated in a recent Armywide housing summit, reviewing reforms and improvements to the Army’s on-post housing program, as well as developing strategies for long-term improvements in the future.
The summit, hosted by Army Materiel Command, brought together leaders from 60 installations and private housing companies.
“At the housing summit we raised two issues on housing and one issue on barracks,” said Col. Jeremy Bell, Fort Campbell garrison commander. “The issue on housing really centered around our aging infrastructure and our aging buildings. We have 4,400 homes on Fort Campbell and 70% of those are pre-1978 homes. What this means is those homes are presumed to be lead-based paint homes, which means a lot of lead in the paint as well as some of the infrastructure inside the house. The other housing issue was rent concessions that are not in line with the outside community and limit improvements in the future."
Bell said junior enlisted housing, both the barracks and Family quarters, are the commanding general’s top infrastructure priorities. The goal is to improve living conditions and continue to invest time and resources advocating for and accomplishing needed improvements.
“Fort Campbell has generally fared well during the housing crisis,” Bell said. “We have a great place to live, work and train. We have our housing problems and we believe the genesis for these issues is our aging housing inventory. They are bad now and will only get worse over time. Without significant investment, our problems will only get worse.”
Ted Reece, chief of the Directorate of Public Works-Housing Services Office, said a plan for addressing the housing concerns on Fort Campbell is in development.
“As the asset manager for the Army’s housing office at Fort Campbell, I make recommendations to our senior leaders on how best to invest for the future,” Reece said. “We are currently working with Lend Lease-Campbell Crossing LLC, to develop the out-year development plan for the next five years. Fort Campbell senior leaders are advocating for a significant portion of the future development to be used for new construction for our junior enlisted population.”
Reece said the ground lease expires with Lend Lease-Campbell Crossing in 2053, when approximately 42% of the homes will near 100 years of age and will have had little to no major renovations. Reece said this fact must change and they are working with AMC and Army leadership on potential options to address the issue.
“Army leadership is committed to ensuring safe, quality housing for Soldiers and Families,” Reece said. “Fort Campbell is focused on maintaining the trust of our residents and making Fort Campbell housing the best in the Army. Our priority effort is on addressing junior enlisted housing with a goal of eventually replacing as much of the inventory as possible with new construction. Our Soldiers and Families deserve this.”
Reece said young Families typically have the least experience dealing with a problematic home and the Army must improve its housing portfolio to lift this burden from those Families.
“This is a readiness issue,” he said. “Managing homes built as early as the 1950s, like Werner Park and Gardner Hills back loop are expensive, problematic and burdensome. Lend Lease is committed to tearing down one of our most troublesome neighborhoods, LaPointe Village – 225 units – over the next five years.”
Reece said they will have to find additional sources of revenue to fund housing replacement projects.
“The Soldiers’ basic housing allowance is the revenue stream that flows to Lend Lease-Campbell Crossing,” Reece said. “Funds that are not required for day-to-day operations, home maintenance, payment of utilities or debt services go into a project reinvestment account. Once sufficient funds are accrued, a major decision memorandum is generated and forwarded to deputy assistant secretary Army for approval to expend the funds.”
The current project reinvestment funds will not be enough to cover the new projects, Reece said.
“Historically, $8-10 million per year goes into the reinvestment account for new construction or major renovations,” he said. “This is how we get renovated and/or construct new homes on Fort Campbell, but it is not enough to meet our requirements. Knowing we need in excess of $1 billion to replace our aging homes, there must be an influx of capital or other revenue streams to get to our desired end-state.”
Reece said Campbell Crossing regularly surveys off-post private property rental and lease rates. In order to achieve a viable and healthy project at Fort Campbell, Lend Lease-Campbell Crossing works to maintain high occupancy while ensuring each home type is not priced too high or too low, he said.
“Due to the age of our housing infrastructure, rental rates comparable to outside the gates are lower than a Soldier’s BAH, resulting in rent concessions approaching $6 million annually,” Reece said. “Such a revenue loss might equate to 16 new homes or 40 major renovations that are not getting done. We do expect rent concessions on Fort Campbell to decrease over the coming months partially due to the migration of the Nashville market toward Clarksville as well as ensuring a healthy Fort Campbell reinvestment account.”
Reece said the post has a good working partnership with Lend Lease-Campbell Crossing, however they are holding Lend Lease accountable for maintain housing, being responsive to work requests and demonstrating exceptional customer service.
“We have received over 140 housing hot line calls in the last 10 months and all but a few have been resolved by CCLLC and your Army housing office working together,” Reece said. “Lead based paint concerns and mold are two of the most common life-health-safety concerns that have been raised. Once these issues were communicated to Campbell Crossing, they dispatch an environmentalist to meet onsite with our staff and bring about a quick resolution.”
Reece said on the occasion a resident is temporarily displaced, Campbell Crossing provides a hospitality home or hotel with the needed accommodations.
“Housing and barracks remain the garrison’s top priority and this is echoed through the installation management chain of command, all the way up through Army Materiel Command, a four-star headquarter,” Reece said. “Our Army leaders’ enduring obligation is to take care of people – Soldiers and their Families – whose health and welfare is of the utmost importance. The experiences and concerns of those living in on-post housing matter to housing officials and leadership. Effect change and let your voice be heard at the senior commander housing town hall 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at Wilson Theater, 93 Michigan Ave.
“This is a great forum to express your concerns or ideas to senior leaders on what needs to be changed or what’s going well in our installation’s barracks and homes,” Reece said. “Concerns and comments from previous town halls have been worked rapidly. Your housing office is your advocate on any issue raised at these town halls and we will work with you until a resolution is achieved.”