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Naples is latest to mandate on-base housing

Jun. 5, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The move to require most new sailors stationed in Naples, Italy, to stay on base will save the Navy $14 million, a base spokesman said.
The move to require most new sailors stationed in Naples, Italy, to stay on base will save the Navy $14 million, a base spokesman said. (Navy)
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Most sailors with dependents heading to Naples, Italy, will receive mandatory on-base housing assignments, a policy designed to cut high vacancy rates that’s already in place in Japan and could be implemented elsewhere.

Active-duty personnel in ranks E-1 to O-6 with dependents who move to Naples on June 1 or later will be affected by the policy, which officials hope will help fill 227 empty housing units, said Lt. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for Naval Support Activity Naples. The base has 971 units; the move could save $14 million a year and will remain in effect indefinitely, Hawkins said.

“The Navy pays rent for all support site housing units regardless of occupancy. As a result, the government unnecessarily pays twice when units are empty, and military families who choose to live on the economy are paid overseas housing allowance,” Hawkins wrote via email.

Sailors moving to Japan fell under the same policy in mid-April. It’s been in place in Sigonella, Italy, for about a year, and officials in Guam are reviewing their options to reduce the high vacancy rates in government-controlled family housing, said Pat Foughty, a spokesman for Naval Installations Command. That decision will come from the region, not CNIC, Foughty said, adding that there are no immediate plans for Guam to change its rules.

Lt. Matt Knight, a spokesman for Joint Region Marianas in Guam, said only that the region did not have a mandatory on-base housing policy for sailors with dependents, but did not comment on the fact that such a policy is under consideration.

Rules vary by region

No waivers will be granted to new Naples sailors with dependents who want to live off base, which means all families must prepare for on-base restrictions. A frequently-asked-questions post on NSA Naples’ Facebook page stresses base rules that allow only two pets and no pets weighing more than 70 pounds, for example.

Rules for what is allowed in housing, including pets, vary greatly by region. For example, in Japan only the townhouses on base permit dogs, and even then they must be allowed into the country by the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service, the CNIC website states.

The policy in Japan, which went into effect in mid-April, applies to those reporting to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Fleet Activities Sasebo and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, said Christian Mehrer, director of fleet and family readiness for Navy Region Japan, in a statement.

“Low occupancy rates directly impact future housing construction and could cause delays to work on new units at the three installations,” said Cmdr. K.C. Marshall, a spokesman for Naval Forces Japan.

“Any pause could seriously impact the long-term availability of quality housing to support the forward deployed naval force,” he said.

The on-base family housing occupancy rates in Sasebo, Atsugi and Yokosuka are 65 percent, 79 percent and 80 percent, respectively, Marshall said.

The policy in Japan will continue until the regions reach a 90 percent occupancy rate, he said.

On-base housing at Sigonella is at an 88 percent occupancy rate, with 63 vacant units, said Lt. Tim Page, a spokesman for Naval Air Station Sigonella. The policy is designed to help the base reach a 92 percent occupancy rate, Page said via email.

Foughty said he is not aware of any other regions reviewing the mandatory on-base housing policy.

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