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Can the Military Fix Base Housing?

Ph.D. candidate Frances Tilney Burke publishes op-ed in The New York Times on privatized housing contracts on military bases.

Living on a military base can be idyllic. Children bike and run freely, cars drive slowly through the neighborhoods, parents keep an eye on one another’s kids, uniformed service members pop home for lunch, and everybody knows your name. In recent years however, these Mayberrys have been plagued by substantial unresolved maintenance issues, which many military renters chalk up to abject negligence from private military housing companies.

In the 1990s, the military services initiated a series of privatization measures for houses maintained by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force. They shifted upkeep and rent collection, among other tasks, to private companies. At the time, many understood this to be a simple matter of efficiency: Tasks pertaining to housing would go to a contractor so the military could better focus on training and preparing for combat. It was also an effort to ameliorate existing housing quality concerns under the assumption that a private company would support the mission more effectively, with higher quality service, and that improved housing would lead to to higher rates of service member retention.

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