Military housing that ranks

Fort Meade: Privatization agreement should be a better deal for soldiers and their families.

May 14, 2001

THE WORLD'S BEST fighting forces deserve better than this.

For decades, the Army has packed soldiers into cramped living quarters at Fort George G. Meade. At 1,100 square feet, the tiny townhouses are much too small for today's military families.

Sgt. Greg Kaczorowski, 28, a seven-year veteran, and his wife, Sally, have lived on Army bases in Hawaii, California and Texas. Fort Meade takes the prize for the worst quarters they've seen.

The Kaczorowskis want everyone to know how bad things are. So they gladly opened their home to visitors this week to show why 2,488 Fort Meade homes, including theirs, desperately need replacing.

There's good news for future Fort Meade families. In a ceremony that brought acting Army Secretary Joseph W. Westphal and other brass to the base last week, the Army signed an agreement to upgrade housing. A private developer will demolish the outdated homes and construct 2,786 modern units. Gone will be the low ceilings and small closets, replaced by spacious homes with garages and room for storage. Construction will begin early 2002.

The privatization deal gives MC Partners a 50-year agreement to develop and lease base housing. Fort Meade is one of four pilot sites for the private housing program. Developers at each site will receive rent from military families, who now live on the base rent-free but will be provided housing allowances for the new homes.

The blueprints are promising. The new vision will improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families, making army life not just bearable, but livable.

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