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Land of the free, Home of the Blue

Aerial view of Soaring Heights Communities, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's privatized housing.

Aerial view of Soaring Heights Communities, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base privatized housing.

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., -- Military housing is the focus of this year's 'Home of the Blue' campaign, which began as 'The Year of the Air Force Family' came to a close.

'Home of the Blue' is a communication initiative intended to educate Airmen and their families on the Military Housing Privatization Act of 1996.

Since it began, the MHPI has delivered nearly 38,000 homes to 44 bases.

Companies have demolished 15,900 inadequate housing units, built approximately 12,200 new homes and renovated more than 5,200.

"The Air Force Housing Privatization program is one of the most successful quality of life initiatives in Air Force history, and has significantly improved housing choices for Airmen," said Col. John A. Cherrey, 355th Fighter Wing commander.

Military housing privatization is accomplished by an installation choosing a major community development company and entering into a 50-year government-business agreement which allows the company to demolish, construct and/or renovate family housing.

"These companies will essentially finance, develop, construct and maintain these homes for 50 years," said Mrs. Liza Q. Lim-Ramos, the capital asset manager of the base housing management office.

Privatization enables homes to be built at less cost, and in a fraction of the time, than traditional military construction.

"The savings and timeline are great, but the goal of the Department of Defense is to eliminate inadequate (governmental) housing in the continental United States," Mrs. Lim-Ramos said.

All remaining bases are slated to have developers by the end of fiscal year 2011, when the program is scheduled to close.

D-M officially joined the ranks of new housing in October 2007 when privatization construction began.

"573 units have been constructed, 36 major renovations completed and we have 123 minor-renovations in the works right now," Mrs. Lim-Ramos said. "Demolition of the rest of the 50's homes will start in 2014 and run through 2016, with the projected end-state of 929 modern units."

The homes in Soaring Heights Communities are pre-wired for cable, internet and phone services. They have modern appliances, and the management companies provide lawn-care services for all yards that are not fenced in.

"Living in a privatized community offers you the benefits of living in a military community while, at the same time, providing you with better quality, safe and modern homes," Mrs. Lim-Ramos said.

In addition to the new housing, the developer of SHC is collaborating with a local green energy company and Tucson Electric Power to make D-M base housing one of the nation' s largest solar-powered communities.

"The solar systems are expected to provide an estimated 75 percent of the residents' energy use next year and could eventually offset 100 percent of SHC electricity use," Mrs. Lim-Ramos said.

For more information, Airmen can visit http://davismonthan.soaringheights.net/. They can also call 228-5547 for the base housing office or 520-745-5024 for Soaring Heights Communities.