JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD When thinking of base housing, many imagine their names at the bottom of an endless waiting list with no hope of going up. Service members might actually shy away from applying for an on-base home, assuming the hardship of a long wait for quarters is normal.
This perception might be ill-conceived, said Katie Williams, leasing center manager with Equity Residential in the Housing Office of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Directorate of Public Works. Base housing is either available today or will be in a short time.
(Long waits are) a vision of the past, Williams said. People have grown to expect it, but weve ... been able to minimize wait times.
Williams staff said many changes have contributed to a decrease in the traditionally long waits for JBLM housing.
(Deployment) times are fading, weve seen less movement (to JBLM) and a lot of people are retiring, so that has made a lot more vacancies available, said Kris Buker, Equity Residential regional manager.
In addition to fewer military arrivals at JBLM, Williams said Equity Residential, the company that managed and developed military housing since installation housing was privatized, is working to provide more timely housing.
Equity Residential is required to house 30 percent of families stationed at JBLM. Thats around 5,200 homes, Buker said.
Meanwhile, new housing construction continues. JBLMs newest community, Stoney Oak on McChord Field, will add 156 homes in late fall or early winter of 2014. In 2018, another housing project will begin.
Weve also streamlined our process so that we can give accurate wait times, Williams said.
In the new leasing center, Equity personnel process the hundreds of applications they receive, giving service members more accurate wait times and quickly matching applications with available housing, Buker said.
Since 2012, as soon as service members receive orders, they are allowed to apply for housing, even if its months before they report to their new duty stations. The new policy has cut wait times significantly and for some, allows them to move into base housing immediately upon arrival.
Im now able to give some definite answers prior to them arriving, which is something we would have never been able to offer in the past, Williams said.
Although many of the homes available now are not new construction, most older housing has been renovated. Some are really beautiful, Buker said.
(Renovations) include things like new carpet, fixtures, appliances, updated windows and new garages, she said. Were doing open houses so that people can get in and see the differences.
To give people an idea of what different JBLM communities have to offer, the leasing center will hold an open house in a new residential community each week, from April 23 through May 14.
I like to stress the sense of community you get living on JBLM, said Marcia McDowell, Equity Residential outreach manager on JBLM. You have neighbors who are living the same life as you, so they understand; they can be here to support each other during those tough times.
Besides the sense of community on JBLM, McDowell listed short commutes, avoidance of 1-5 traffic, free yard service, fast maintenance response times, no pet fees for two pets, no security deposit and fixed fees and rent as benefits to living on the installation.
The cost of base housing is a service members entire basic housing allowance and includes the home, insurance, yard care and a baseline of utilities. If residents exceed baseline utility use, they pay the excess difference. If they drop under the baseline, however, residents will get a rebate.
Service members can view waiting lists for base housing and apply online at jblmc.com. Not all communities are listed, but Williams said they will be updating the website to include all communities in the next few months.
Service members also can call the leasing office, at 253-912-2112, or the Housing Services Office, at 253-967-3581, for more information.