The Military Services Are Constructing Unneeded Family Housing

CED-78-8: Published: Dec 29, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 29, 1977.

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In its family housing program, the Department of Defense (DOD) tries to ensure married members of the armed services and their families adequate quarters. DOD policy is to rely on communities near military installations as the primary source for housing, and housing should be constructed on a military installation only as a last resort.

The DOD system for assessing available community housing is based on the military installations' annual survey. DOD uses questionnaire responses combined with information on community rental units currently vacant or planned to project housing deficits or surpluses. The services have justified housing construction at installations on the basis of sampling techniques that were erroneous. The services have generally understated the availability of community housing by such actions as limiting the areas considered below policy requirements, excluding houses for sale, and making improper allocations between military and civilian demand. Congress is not kept fully informed on housing shortages revealed by surveys. Also, families are assigned to onbase housing on the basis of service members' rank rather than family need. In 1975 and 1976, more than 35% of all military families lived in government-owned housing with more bedrooms than DOD authorized.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that the military services: (1) use proper sampling techniques; (2) observe the 60-minute commuting criteria; (3) count as adequate community housing vacant houses for sale; (4) consider the future growth of a community; (5) make other changes to identify accurately housing available to military families in a community; and (6) assign separately onbase family housing to officer and enlisted families based on family need. The Secretary should: (1) include in DOD construction fund requests housing deficits by each bedroom category and eligible pay grade group, as shown by surveys; and (2) inform Congress that DOD and service headquarters officials have verified survey deficits.

    Agency Affected:


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