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NEWS | Dec. 13, 2011

On or off base? Housing assistance now available at central facility

By Mike Joseph JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

The recent relocation of Capital Asset Management's housing referral office to the new Balfour Beatty Communities management center continues the evolution of privatized housing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The facility, located at 2254 Brian Elroy on the southeast side of Lackland, now gives service members the opportunity to get on- and off-base housing assistance without having to visit separate locations.

Families are briefed on housing options by the housing referral office upon arrival.
Those interested in on-base housing need only cross a hallway to begin the process instead of shuttling between two locations for information.

The housing referral office and Balfour Beatty had been geographically separated since Balfour Beatty became the privatized base housing owner/developer two years ago.

Now, only the hallway separates the two entities for service members and their families when it comes to housing options.

Moving the housing referral office in with the Balfour Beatty staff creates a one-stop housing experience for service members and their families, who are transitioning to JBSA-Lackland, said Elvira Martinez, housing referral manager.

Privatized housing relies on a 50-year partnership between the Air Force and Balfour Beatty, the developer.

The Air Force leases the land to the developer for 50 years. In return, the developer builds and maintains all homes on the property, and receives compensation by retaining the service members' basic allowance for housing.

"There is more efficiency," Martinez said. "We're able to process incoming personnel much faster before we refer them to Balfour Beatty. They get a better feel for their housing options and what Balfour Beatty has to offer."

Cindy Murillo, Balfour Beatty area community manager, agreed.

"We want to make it as convenient as possible for Airmen and their families," Murillo said. "It's trying enough when they're (trying) to get moved and settled. We're right next door and it helps."

James Fisher, Capital Asset Management chief, said the new management center helps promote the privatized housing concept.

"As soon as Airmen and their families walk into this building, they see what Balfour Beatty is all about," he said.

Balfour Beatty currently has more than 900 homes in inventory with an occupancy rate that consistently stays at almost 100 percent. The developer also expects future expansion with its 50-year privatized housing contract.

"Every dollar that comes in benefits military housing, not only the up-keep of existing homes, but new housing and renovations throughout the life of the project," said Murillo. "We've found the demand is there for on-base housing, and we're fortunate to have a very healthy waiting list.

"(The collocation) is a great opportunity to get a feel for the community, and a chance to see it," she said.

For off-base living, Martinez's housing referral office furnishes a welcome packet. It includes websites, how to access the Department of Defense's automated housing referral network, and information on San Antonio and local schools.

"We make sure everything is inclusive in the welcome package, to give our customers as much information as possible so they can make an educated decision," Martinez said. "We want to make their housing transition as smooth as possible."