McConnell to privatize housing

More than 400 McConnell Air Force Base housing units are on the market, part of a move by the U.S. Air Force to privatize housing for all airmen by late 2012.

According to documents, the Air Force is seeking proposals to sell 441 housing units to a private property manager.

The government anticipates proposals in December, and will begin negotiations with the highest ranked offer in early 2011, said Dina Patton, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron capital asset manager.

It's the latest development in a 12-year-old housing privatization program that has allowed the Air Force to redirect 93 percent of its old housing budget into weapons systems, research and development, training and logistics, according to McConnell officials. Savings are estimated at $7 billion.

Included in the McConnell proposal are units in the Capehart East and Capehart West divisions, PAIP, Spicer and Winfield. All were built in 1958, except the 102 Spicer units that were built in 1993.

"Most government-owned homes do not meet today's standards," Patton said. "The 1996 Military Housing Privatization Initiative enables the government to partner with private entities to build new and revitalize inadequate military family housing."

The eventual McConnell buyer would be ordered to demolish 234 units and construct 157 new houses, leaving a net of 364 units available to airmen.

After 50 years, the housing will be returned to the Air Force.

At the end of this year, privatization will have leveraged $423 million of government investment into $6.54 billion of private development, Air Force officials said.

"Before housing privatization, it was going to take us the better part of 25 years to improve or replace the homes in our inventory," said Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant Air Force secretary for installations, in a statement.

"Through housing privatization, we have been able to eliminate nearly all of our inadequate houses in the Air Force, and in their place build thriving housing communities for airmen and their families."

Other bases included in the project are Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

Working with private owners, the Air Force has privatized 70 percent of its original housing since the program's inception in 1998, officials said. Privatization has eliminated more than 35,000 inadequate homes and privatized 38,000 units at 44 bases.

Twenty-three installations are awaiting privatization agreements, with almost 53,000 privately operated units anticipated when the program is complete in October 2012.