Home sweet home
By Staff Sgt. Jeff Middleton
| | June 26, 2002
6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
The Commandant of the Marine Corps ,Gen. James Jones, dropped by for a visit June 26 at the residence of Sgt. Daniel Sanchez, a recruiter from Recruiting Station New Orleans.
The Commandant visited Sanchez's new housing community at Naval Air Station Belle Chase to address the base regarding "family readiness" and to cut the ribbon on a new military-civilian housing development project.
This 73 million dollar project follows a trend since the mid-1990s to collaborate with private business to control costs. New Orleans is one of the first places nationwide in which the Navy is trying to solve housing woes through a public-private venture.
"In my view, this takes New Orleans from a not-so-great duty station to a premier duty station," said Cmdr. Jack Reape, executive officer of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 54 at the air station.
The Sanchezes, who will be one of the first families to move into the new houses in two weeks, have lived in base housing before. They said Camp Pendleton, Calif., was getting really good as they were leaving. But Daniel's wife, Sue said she was very impressed with what she saw at Belle Chasse, calling it "a nice change from New Orleans."
"We're pretty happy to get this," said Daniel Sanchez. "We are definitely looking forward to saving about $400 a month in rental expenses when we move from our apartment in Marrero."
The Sanchezes currently spend around $1,000 for an apartment in Marrero but they only receive $689 in Basic Allowance for Housing. The privatized-housing program will let service members who live on base continue to get BAH to cover rent and utilities but the amount they pay will be the same as what they receive.
Daniel, who often works long hours as a Marine recruiter, couldn't be happier with this tremendous improvement in quality of life.
"This is something really good for recruiting," said Gen. Jones.
The Commandant also went on to comment that readiness is about gear, military occupational specialty and physical training and family readiness. Each Marine can concentrate on his mission at hand and rest assured he made the right decision and his family is safe and lives in good, quality housing.
Jeannette Bryant, who manages air station housing, called the housing area, "the ultimate gated community. There was an 18-month waiting list for housing and such a need for housing here."
The 525 new townhouse units range in size from 1,300 to 1,800 square feet. They have 9-foot ceilings on the first floor, ceramic tile floors in the bathrooms and foyers, and some master bedrooms have balconies. Each unit has washer and dryer hook ups, a detached, enclosed garage with an extra parking space and a private back yard accessible by a rear service drive.