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Inbound families to fill on-base housing first

Date Posted: 2009-07-09

The military’s executive agent for family housing on Okinawa says families arriving from August 1st will not have a choice between on-base and off-base housing.

An Air Force spokesman confirms the new policies “will concern all service members who use the DoD Military Housing Office at Kadena Air Base. Families already stationed on Okinawa,” says 1st. Lt. Bryan L. Bouchard, Chief of Public Affairs for the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, “will not be affected by the new policy.”

Bouchard says the government is “attempting to utilize taxpayers’ money more efficiently by better utilizing the resources available to us. If we have the housing,” he says, “we should be using it before we pay additional money for people to live off base.” The U.S. pays the service members’ housing allowances, not the Government of Japan. Officials predict once the new policy is in effect, annual savings of $30~50 million will result.

“As service members come and go from Okinawa,” the public affairs officer says, “the policy will gradually reduce the numbers living off base. Once housing reaches 95% occupancy, families will once again be given the choice between on-and-off-base housing, depending on individual service requirements.”

Bouchard says putting on-base quarters first “has been our policy with our dormitories and barracks, and is now our policy with military housing.” He notes that the U.S. and Japan are investing more than $2 billion in renovation of military housing on Okinawa to “insure the quality of life of our most important resource, our military members themselves.” He added “it’s important that everyone understands our obligation to act as good stewards of U.S. taxpayer money.

Japan’s Ministry of Self Defense Forces Japan says there are currently about 11,900 U.S. military personnel and family members living off base, about 25.6% of the military population. The latest figures from the Self Defense Forces are 46,340 American service members and dependents here, as of March 31st. The ministry says it can’t explain why, but notes the number of Americans residing off-base is increasing about 100 more than a year ago.

Apartment buildings constructed especially for Americans have been gaining in recent years, particularly in Chatan and Kin Towns, and Yomitan and Kitanakagusuku Villages. The Marine Corps had told the ministry at the time of the Ministry’s survey “any military serviceman can live off base, except for some special important stations or assigned persons, or those of ranks of airman or private first class or below.” The Marine spokesman had said “except for those junior personnel and those who have to fill special assigments, everyone can go to live off-base.” The policy going into effect August 1st negates earlier policies.

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