The six-member Dolce family is one of just three civilian families with no connection to the military living in family housing at Dover Air Force Base, Del., but they represent a more significant trend under way at housing communities across DOD — an increase in the number of projects opening their neighborhoods to civilians due to the lack of demand from active-duty service members.
The Eagle Heights community at Dover is one of six housing communities operated by Hunt Cos., out of a total of 25, that now accept civilians. And the number is growing, the developer’s Dixie Johnson told the News Journal.
“In the early years, because of the increase in troops and the war that we are fighting, there were way more active-duty [personnel] available for housing,” she said. “That has since changed a little bit as the drawdown has occurred and sequestration has happened.”
The decline in demand from service members has been relatively recent. “We’re seeing a drawdown in short-term, 30-day notices due to getting out of the military in all of our properties. So that is definitely a trend across our portfolio,” Johnson said.
Driving the trend in the number of housing projects opening up to civilians is the reduction in end strength the Army and Air Force are experiencing. The Army is shrinking to 490,000 troops by the end of fiscal 2015 and already is considering deeper cuts beyond that point. The Air Force also has been contracting and is slated to eliminate 16,700 positions by October 2015, according to the story.
Living on an active military installation may not be for everyone, but Tony Dolce, who moved his family to a four-bedroom home at Dover AFB two weeks ago, sees plenty of advantages, including a secure environment, affordable rents, on-call maintenance, and proximity to playgrounds and other amenities.