Sasebo Housing Director Gail Benton pores through a stack of housing plans Thursday, all drawn in the hope of easing base housing shortages.

Sasebo Housing Director Gail Benton pores through a stack of housing plans Thursday, all drawn in the hope of easing base housing shortages. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — On the ship. In the barracks. In a Japanese “cho.”

If you are a single sailor living at Sasebo Naval Base, you hang your hat in one of these.

But base officials are working through the Rental Partnership Program to add another housing option: a Japanese-built apartment with all of the comforts of a Western home.

RPP isn’t a new concept. It has created 114 new units to cope with Sasebo’s housing squeeze, but it has been used only for families until now, Sasebo housing director Gail Benton said Thursday.

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this here,” Benton said. “We’re pretty excited.”

Base officials are set to sign a memorandum of understanding July 12 to break ground on a 21-unit housing project specifically designed for single sailors. It will likely be earmarked for those ranked E-4 and above, as the military gives them an off-base housing allowance, Benton said.

By moving older enlisted off base, more barracks rooms will be freed up for younger sailors, which falls into the base’s Homeport Ashore initiative — a plan to increase the quality of life for junior sailors by getting them off their ship racks and into a real bed when they are in port, she said.

The project includes 15 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units in Funakoshi Cho (town), she said. The units will be smaller than RPP family homes, but there will be plenty of space for residents to have friends over and live comfortably, Benton said.

One of the unknowns in the project is whether sailors will want to live there, as some singles like to pool their resources for a bigger pad, she said.

But this RPP’s selling points are going to be location and amenities, she said. It will be built to Western specifications and overlook the scenic 99 Islands area not far from base.

The developer also has proposed running a shuttle bus to the base for the tenants if residents will use it, she said.

RPP allows sailors to avoid the eye-popping upfront fees typical of off-base living, as many landlords want two months’ rent, a security deposit and key money in order to sign a lease, Benton said, adding that RPP requires only one month’s rent to move in.

RPP landlords, in turn, have the advantage of regular rent payments, as tenants are required to use the G.I. Bill Pay automatic deduction service. Navy housing provides the appliances and landlords also can call on base housing to mediate any issues that may crop up, Benton said.

RPP has worked well so far in Sasebo’s five family-housing projects, she said.

“They stay pretty full,” Benton said.

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