U.S. service members and their families will have a larger voice in their housing communities thanks to a new program implemented by one of the country’s largest military housing management firms.
Balfour Beatty Communities launched a Collaborative Building program designed to incorporate service members’ feedback into military housing construction projects.
“Our goal is to provide our military families with the best living experiences possible, and we’re continually looking for new ways to achieve that,” Chris Williams, President of Balfour Beatty Communities, recently told American Military News.
The program involves 7 to 10 elected members of the local community who help facilitate discussions between the military residents and Balfour Beatty Communities.
“We’ve always had strong communications with our residents, but this collaborative building approach formalizes the interaction and gives them the opportunity to provide direct input to help shape the homes and communities where they live,” Williams added. “We’re excited by the response and we’re proud to work with our residents to build better communities.”
Balfour Beatty Communities has rolled out the program in Cannon, N.M., at Cannon Family Homes, a gated community exclusive to active duty Air Force personnel based at Cannon Air Force Base.
Of the 1,038 homes they manage there, approximately 677 were newly constructed, and the remainder were renovated. The construction and renovations, as well as the community facilities and amenities, were influenced by communication with the residents.
Residents were able to share their input from the early design stages all the way through completed construction.
“Our mission is to provide housing military residents want to live in, not have to live in, and giving them a voice in the development process helps us achieve that,” Mark Lavin, senior vice president of project management and development for Balfour Beatty Communities, said in a statement.
“The collaborative building approach gives our residents the opportunity to tell us what they’re looking for in new developments and constructions, as well as the indoor and outdoor amenities they need most to enhance their living experience,” Lavin added.
Their communicative approach is more important now than ever, as military housing conditions have deteriorated, causing high rates of dissatisfaction among military families across the nation.
Military contracts with private sector firms like Balfour Beatty Communities were made possible by the 1996 Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) after the Department of Defense determined that it would need 40 years and $20 billion to solve the issue of poor quality housing, a Government Accountability Office report stated.
Private developers now manage approximately 99 percent of family housing for the U.S. military.
Balfour Beatty Communities manages more than 44,000 homes on 55 military bases in the U.S. They are beginning to roll out their new program at other military bases, and have plans to implement it in more bases.