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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Navy officials took another step Thursday toward implementing a rental program they hope will ease Sasebo Naval Base’s chronic family housing shortage.

Base commander Capt. Michael James, Housing Director Gail Benton and a regional housing official from Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan explained the base’s new Rental Partnership Program concept to some 100 Japanese builders, real estate agents and property owners at the Sasebo Chamber of Commerce in Minato-machi.

Those attending the meeting listened to the presentation, asked a few questions and were encouraged to contact base officials if interested in the program or want additional information, base spokeswoman Yoko Aramaki said Friday.

No specific RPP housing agreements were formed at Thursday’s meeting in Sasebo but initial interest by area builders and landowners appears promising, Benton said shortly after the program was announced in March.

The rental program is designed to provide Western features in housing rented by Americans, and to remove the need for expensive move-in fees.

Americans living in RPP housing would pay their rent through an automatic account deduction each month, reducing Japanese developers’ risk of rent delinquencies. The Americans also would have to agree to at least a year’s lease.

In return, Japanese developers would agree to do away with agent and restoration fees and security deposits, base housing officials have said. The minimum requirements they seek in local housing, they’ve said, are refrigerators, cooking stoves, air conditioners and heaters in each room or central heat and air, full-sized washers and dryers and smoke detectors.

The program’s main intent “is to provide a short-term solution to the housing shortage we have here in Sasebo,” Benton said. Base housing can accommodate just 55 percent of the families associated with the base, the highest percentage of families not living in family housing in Japan, officials said.

Yokosuka Naval Base housing officials recently signed two Japanese developers to participate in a similar program. They said the Yokosuka developers plan to have nearly 50 units available by year’s end.

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