Housing Shortfalls Could Worsen in Some Growth Communities, GAO Finds

Service members have encountered challenges in obtaining off-base housing at some growth installations, a challenge that is expected to continue or worsen, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

A shortfall in housing already exists in at least 19 of the military’s 26 mission growth installations. The deficits range from 1 percent of total demand at Fort Polk, La., to more than 20 percent at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., GAO found.

The economic downturn in recent years, which has made it difficult for homebuilders to obtain financing, particularly for multifamily rental housing projects, has contributed to the shortfall. One factor affecting the willingness of lenders to approve loans is the high number of deployments and resulting uncertainty about anticipated demand for new housing.

The congressional watchdog agency found deficits exceeding 15 percent of the demand for family housing at four of five locations it reviewed — Cannon; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. Service members at the two eastern North Carolina bases have not experienced difficulties in obtaining off-post housing, though, partially due to the availability of mobile homes.

Challenges in finding housing in the community exist at the fifth installation examined, Fort Riley, Kan., as well, although the deficit is only 4 percent of family housing demand, or 700 units. Officials there are concerned about the expected increase in demand they will encounter starting in October when all but one of the post’s brigades will be home, according to the report.

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