MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Today’s warfighters can face challenges while at home on U.S. soil or while serving overseas. Along with the stress inherent to the job, service members shouldn’t have to worry about the safety and well-being of those they leave behind while deployed for training and operations around the world. To help mitigate this stress, the Family Housing Branch employs 25 members who work diligently to provide service members and their loved ones quality housing both on and off of the base.
For those that choose to live on the base, the housing office advocates on their behalf and helps resolve any disputes with their Public-Private Venture landlord. At Camp Pendleton, that can be either Hunt Military Communities or Lincoln Military Housing. On-base housing is managed through PPV partners, which construct, maintain, and manage the homes on base as part of a 50-year contract with the Department of the Navy. Although the housing office is not ultimately responsible for managing the properties on base, they do their best to make sure service members and their families are taken care of.
“We do everything we can to put a roof over their heads as quickly as possible,” said Bob Marshall, Director, Family Housing Branch, MCB Camp Pendleton. “We really care about each and every family.”
The housing director sends an email to service members roughly 90-120 days out from their scheduled arrival date to welcome them, and provides instructions on the advanced application process which allows them to apply for on-base housing online. In addition to the application, the email also provides information about the base, points of contact within the Family Housing Branch and information about the housing referral office for those who wish to reside off-base.
“We are the only base in the Department of Defense that has the electronic method of submitting applications,” said Marshall. “Anywhere in the world, they can go into this database and access the forms which we [monitor every] day and respond [to] within 48 hours.”
Only 25 percent of service members stationed at MCB Camp Pendleton opt to live in one of the 7,795 homes on the base, with the other 75 percent residing in local communities.
“Camp Pendleton lets people choose wherever they want to go,” said Marshall.
The Off-Base Referrals Section, composed of six employees, is responsible for performing property inspections, providing home purchase and loan information, mediating between landlords and tenants, serving as a liaison to the local community and collecting data annually that determines local basic allowance for housing rates. More importantly, these employees track the reputation of landlords and analyze crimes within the local community to help find the best homes possible for service members and their families.
“I don’t want to put a family with a service member forward deployed in a bad area,” stated Marshall.
According to Marshall, there is a common misconception that the Family Housing Branch merely provides applications and keys for on-base housing; however, this office also handles disputes between neighbors on the base, conducts housing market analyses to ensure that on-base housing is competitive with what is offered off-base, performs property inspections and plays a role in educational funding for two off-base school districts that serve on-base students. They also help plan future housing developments and help decide which older units should be demolished while making sure that all housing construction complies with local, state, and federal environmental regulations.
Many of the individuals who work in the Family Housing Branch have served in the armed forces or have family members who served. This, in turn, helps employees better understand the families who receive orders to MCB Camp Pendleton.
“I have worked in housing since we were 100 percent government, and I’ve seen how we do it now that we are privatized,” said Lori Slater, PPV Liaison Manager. “Understanding the culture [helps us] do [our] job … [we] care about what their families are going through.”