Monday, December 14, 2009

How privatized housing (PPVs) essentially works

In assessing how to refute one group's admirable, yet ill-conceived suggestion to convert the Laurelwood units at Earle to veterans housing, and to give our supporters a "Cliff's Notes" view of what Privatization in NOPE stands for, one must note the structure of our military Public-Private Ventures (PPV) and that the military has no real ownership in the houses it "privatizes", as evidenced in this 2005 NAVFAC PowerPoint.

Were it as simple as the Department of Navy owning the homes and making the call on who ultimately would live at Laurelwood, then NOPE might not have a case. However, in a PPV, the U.S. Military cedes control of the housing (i.e. selection of renters, rental rates, etc.) to an outside, generally obscure, Limited Liability Corporation majority partner (Laurelwood Homes, LLC, in our case at NWS Earle).

The deal is simple...the military gets the homes it needs for its enlisted personnel for a finite period ("in-lease") and at almost no upfront cost, and then gives the developer full control over how the "out-lease" (civilian-use phase in the case of Laurelwood) is executed.

Rather than holding the surrounding communities, elected officials or NOPE responsible for collective and rational objections to civilian housing at Earle and unimpeded civilian access to a Naval weapons depot, the proponents of veterans housing should direct their questions and attention to those responsible for PPV oversight and hone in on Fort Monmouth, which is scheduled for closure in 2012 and, in NOPE's view, far better-suited to veterans' needs (i.e. medical facilities, housing, open space, etc.). That is a far more viable, safer and attainable solution to veterans' housing needs than some willy-nilly landgrab at Weapons Station Earle.

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