7 Data Points on Military Housing Conditions

The Department of Defense (DOD) has recognized military housing conditions as an area of need across its branches. In response, Gordian partnered with GovExec to commission research on the condition of DOD military housing, which illuminated the critical state of many units occupied by service members and their families.

The full research findings as well as proposed solutions for improving military housing conditions can be found in our recent issue brief. Meanwhile, here is a high-level, illustrated look at the challenges facing the DOD in their efforts to modernize and revitalize military housing units:

Military Housing Background Facts

According to DOD records, 63% of military families live in military housing. About one-third of those families live in military housing built and owned by the private sector.

63% of military families live in military housing

This is an important note. If the DOD owned all its housing property outright, it could theoretically address maintenance needs in those units faster. Instead, for the one-third of its housing units that are privately owned, it must work in partnership with the property owners to complete updates.

Those privately owned units provide housing for about 700,000 members of military families across more than 100 DOD branch bases.

700,000 members of military families across more than 100 DOD branch bases

Current Military Housing Conditions

Military housing was initially privatized in the late 1990s in order to bring better living spaces to service members. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the experience for the majority of military families. According to a 2019 survey, over 55% of respondent military families had a negative or very negative experience with privately owned military housing.

over 55% of respondent military families had a negative or very negative experience with privately owned military housing

And there’s likely good reason for these negative opinions. The DOD has reported that 58,000 of its base housing units are old and in need of extensive repair. That’s a whopping 43% of the DOD’s total housing units, including private units, that are dilapidated.

43% of the DOD’s total housing units, including private units, that are dilapidated

Moving Forward

DOD branches are moving to improve military housing conditions, but it’s going to be a long and costly uphill battle. The Army plans to spend $3 billion to improve housing over the next five years. $3 billion is a lot of money, but given that the Army has the most domestic bases of DOD branches, that level of investment is undersized compared to the need. The other military branches are likely investing in housing updates as well.

Even so, the DOD estimates that it would need 30 years and $20 billion dollars to complete the required renovations and improvements to bring all military housing units up to modern living standards.

DOD estimates that it would need 30 years and $20 billion dollars to complete the required renovations and improvements

That said, it’s not a certainty that nearly half of all military housing units will continue to deteriorate.in disrepair. The DOD’s estimate was created using standard military construction (MILCON) practices and budgets, but new sources of funding and alternative project delivery methods, like Gordian’s Job Order Contracting (JOC), could speed up the process. JOC allows for many projects to be completed using one contract, significantly expediting time to construction. And the faster military housing is improved, the better.

To read more about what can be done by both the DOD and the private entities to address the ongoing issue, download the full issue brief.

About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.