Changes make it harder to get a home on base
Stars and Stripes April 2, 2008
RED LODGE — The Matoz family — No. 97 on the base housing list — would gladly give up their four-bedroom townhome near RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall for a one-bedroom place inside the gates.
But with 95 families likely being forced out of their homes in Newmarket since the owner refused to renew the Air Force’s contract, the Matoz’s expect to be pushed back on the list. Again.
They fell twelve positions — from No. 85 — after arriving in February from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland because “remote-tour families (those already living overseas) get priority over everybody else,” explained Dolly Matoz. But living off-base is so inconvenient, “I don’t care if we’re here three years and six months and we only have six months left, we’ll move on base.”
The young family’s home in Red Lodge, about 20 minutes from both installations, is brand new. But the four transformers they need to operate American appliances often overload the circuit and cause the power to go out at least once a week. And forget about leaving their 2-year-old son’s humidifier and diaper warmer on during the night, they said. Though low-voltage, the items still require the transformer to consume 2,000 volts of electricity.
“We’re nervous about getting our first electricity bill,” said Sgt. Diego Matoz. “Everything is so expensive that’s why we want to get on base too.”
Safety is also a concern.
“My husband gets e-mails all the time about burglaries and things,” said Dolly Matoz, a stay-at-home mom. “Luckily we live around a lot of Americans, which makes us feel a little safer. But it seems like [criminals) target the Americans.”
For Cesar Sepulveda, whose car was broken into when he and his family lived in Thetford, living off-base was a nightmare. After the incident, Sepulveda said he discovered defending his home against intruders was next to impossible in Britain.
“I was told someone could walk right up in your house, sit on your couch and turn on the TV and there’s nothing you can do besides call the police,” said Sepulveda, who secured his doors with iron chains for extra protection after the scare.
“We freaked out. It was bad,” said Sepulveda, whose family got on-base housing at Lakenheath late last year after waiting about six months. “It’s just a little bit more relaxed on the base and everybody looks out for each other.”