Department of Air Force Community Partnerships Resolve Base Housing Gaps

  • Published
  • Air Force Community Partnership Program

This country is in a historic housing crunch. Many Americans are struggling to find quality and affordable housing. Military service members are no exception. Competition for housing has reached a point where it compromises our service members’ quality of life and threatens our military readiness. Though there is no easy solution to this problem, the Air Force Community Partnership (AFPC) Program has provided a framework through which installations and community leaders can leverage their unique capabilities to enhance mission performance, reduce costs, and improve quality of life.

A great example that illustrates the success of AFPC is Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. The base identified a future housing need for more than 400 units to meet mission growth. After careful analysis, the installation determined that the greatest need was multi-family units, specifically two and three-bedroom condo and townhouse-style units for E5 and E6 personnel. Without additional housing, the base would not be able to meet its future needs.  

Like a lot of bases, Altus AFB has a large economic impact on the surrounding City of Altus. The city was motivated to help the base resolve their housing shortage so more Airmen could be stationed in the community. Working with government, business, and base leaders, a regional housing task force was established in December 2019 to address the housing issue. The City of Altus identified city-owned land adjacent to Altus AFB and rezoned it for housing. They initiated a Request for Proposal to develop multi-family condo/townhome rental units and priced them to fit the needs of E5 and E6 personnel.  The city selected a developer who proposed to build a 112-unit single-story condo rental complex.

The next step was to secure funding. The Department of Defense (DOD) had no funding to contribute to an off-base housing project, so the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODC) provided a loan of $4 million to pay for the housing project. The loan would be paid off over time through the ODC’s Public-Private Partner Military Infrastructure Pool program.  The City of Altus held a groundbreaking ceremony in June 2021 to kick off the surveying and engineering portion of the project, while the grading and street work started in January 2022. The entire housing project is estimated to be completed by Summer 2024.

The circumstances surrounding Altus AFB and the local community are not unique. Similar partnerships and collaborative efforts can be achieved by following the subsequent guidelines. First, identify who are the stakeholders in the local area, like the housing authority. Next, create a two-way dialog with the stakeholders and share needs and concerns. Then, create a housing task force to help focus efforts and formalize the endeavors. The task force should be comprised of decision-makers at all levels of the community (e.g. local, city, county, state, and federal). Identify a timeline that will help everyone involved stay engaged and aligned.

The next step is to gather and analyze data. Identify what segment of the population needs the most housing and the type of housing required. What are the requirements and opportunities now and in the future? Once the data has been identified and gathered share it with all collaborators, everyone needs to understand the opportunities and requirements. Even though operational security may place certain restrictions on exchanges of information, communicating candidly will lead to a better outcome.    

Finally, assess what resources are available; think outside the box. Research and explore funding at the local, state, and federal levels. With a diverse task force, there will be a variety of opportunities to explore. Remember to be open, honest, and transparent with all partners. Working together to find funding will increase the chances of success. Do not limit sources to one or two, but pursue multiple sourcing options. If one falls through do not give up, be diligent and persistent until you find one that will work.

To learn more about how to create strong partnerships between local communities and Air Force and Space installations contact the Air Force Community Partnership (AFPC) Program.