Privatized housing in full-swing

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Shawn Cushman
  • 509th Civil Engineer Squadron
It is a time of uncertainty for many of our housing residents at Whiteman Air Force Base. Housing privatization is in full-swing and it has left members wondering what changes are in store for them.

It is human nature to be reluctant to change, especially when you don't see a need for it. There may be some negative perceptions toward privatization due to fear of the unknown, but in actuality, the changes will make this transition a much more enjoyable environment in which to live.

As a first sergeant, the morale and well being of Air Force personnel and their families is my top priority. I have to admit that I had some reservations in regards to this transition when it was first announced, but once I had the opportunity to do research and speak with everyone involved, it became apparent that privatization will benefit everyone.

Allow me to shed light on some of the housing privatizations more common misconceptions. Many people are concerned that they will not be able to own a trampoline, wash their vehicles in their driveways or enjoy a soothing fire-pit in their back yard. These are false statements. All of those things will continue to be acceptable with the understanding that public safety and utility conservation remain in the forefront.

Another concern is that the current system that attempts to group individuals with similar pay grades will change under the new contract. This is also false. The goal is to maintain the rank integrity that is currently in place. Some people may not like the idea of having the added responsibility of paying for their utilities each month, but considering the fact that you will be credited 110 percent of the average utility cost for the size of the unit you live in, a thrifty family could find themselves with a little extra cash in their pockets each month.

Now that I have addressed some of the more common concerns about the upcoming changes, I would like to inform you about some additions you will see in the community once Balfour Beatty Community is at the helm. They will renovate 140 units in the Ridgeview area. There will be eight new picnic areas, four new play lots, four new tot lots and eight more bus shelters added throughout the neighborhoods.

They will also add six basketball courts, a lighted outdoor sports complex and a brand new community center. These improvements are only made possible because of privatization. From an individual housing standpoint, you will see covered patios added to houses that do not currently possess one, the widening of driveways, keyless entry pads for door locks, new storm doors, fencing, vinyl trash blinds and outside storage facilities.

When the dust settles and the smoke clears, you will notice that the only changes that have been made are positive changes with our family's best interest in mind. The quality of life the U.S. Air Force provides for its members exceeds that of any other branch of military in the world. The partnership between Whiteman AFB and BBC should prove to be one that benefits not only our housing residents, but each and every one of us on the installation.
Remember, do not let your reluctance deter you from accepting an inevitable change that will most certainly make this a better place to live.