Fort Gordon housing expansion to civilians, retirees on hold
The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle
A proposal to open Fort Gordon housing to civilian employees and retired members of the military has been suspended to let local leaders search for ways to rent more homes on post to active-duty personnel and their families, officials said this week.
Fort Garrison Commander Col. Sam Anderson said during a recent virtual town hall meeting that an announcement made in early September stating retirees and civilian Department of Defense employees are now eligible to rent homes on post was “premature.”
Anderson said during the live chat – on Facebook on Sept. 18 – that his office is currently working with Balfour Beatty Communities, the family housing provider at Fort Gordon, to develop a plan that will generate a residential occupancy rate of 95 percent or greater on post without requiring civilian or retiree tenants.
Officials estimate Fort Gordon has a residential population of 2,800 families, enough for a 94 percent occupancy rate.
“There was an initial effort to potentially open up housing to DOD civilians and retirees and the advertisements reflected that,” Anderson said during the online exchange. “The command leadership was uncomfortable with the implementation of this strategy and we are focusing efforts on filling houses with military members and military families.”
In a statement issued by the Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office this week, the Army post’s senior leadership said negotiations continue with Balfour Beatty on “proposals and practices intended to generate higher occupancy rates in family housing while also providing the best possible service to our military community.”
The agreement Fort Gordon has with Balfour Beatty permits leasing to DOD civilians and retirees in accordance with an eight-tier hierarchical system of categories that can be opened in order to maximize occupancy, the statement read. Civilians and retirees represent the last category that can be activated.
Around the first week of September, Balfour Beatty began advertising on its Web site, through e-mail and on billboards near Fort Gordon Gate 1 that “military retirees and DOD Civilians are now eligible to rent homes on post.”
The ad stated tenants could have two pets and that no security deposit or application or pet fee was required as long as candidates had good credit.
As of Thursday, the message remained on Balfour Beatty’s Web site; however, company spokeswoman Maureen Omrod said the company initiated the advertising efforts to monitor levels of interest civilians and retirees had in homes on Fort Gordon “where there is a lack of demand from military families.”
Many Fort Gordon residents said during the virtual town hall that they thought homes were only available to active-duty families, recommending that Balfour Beatty discontinue its ad campaign and put the money saved into renovating and building new homes to increase occupancy.
However, some said civilians and retirees living on post could be good.
Fort Gordon military spouse Kara Kennedy said Fort Ord, in Monterey, Calif., lets the public, including university students, live in some of the older housing on post.
“It wasn’t that bad,” she said. “I actually liked having a mixture of civilians and military, and they did a good job of keeping it financially fair for military.”