By Mary Doyle
PCS Part II
It is Permanent Change of Station season at military installations around the world. That means thousands of people are packing up their belongings and moving from one place they called home, to another place that may be completely unfamiliar to them. That lack of familiarity can be a real detriment when making one of the most important decisions of a PCS move—where to live.
For folks arriving to Fort Meade, you can gain insight into the local housing picture by contacting the Army Housing Office as early as possible. The office serves all branches of the military as well as Department of Defense civilians.
“Seek out the resources our office has to offer,” said Caryn Bethel-Washington, Army Housing Services Officer. “We can help you start planning your move and in this area, having some inside information is vitally important.”
Inside information can be anything from the high cost of the local housing market to the traffic levels and the average time a commute might take. “People think they know how expensive things are, but they can still be shocked,” said Bethel-Washington. “Or you can find a place that is ten miles away and not be aware that it could still take 30 minutes to get to work. Living on, or close, to post can be very convenient.”
Like military installations across the country, all housing on post, with the exception of barracks housing, is run by a civilian housing partner, Corvias. Five neighborhood communities plus garden apartments for singles, and over 700 different floor plans, means there are a lot of options on post. If your family requires special accommodations, early notification is key. Bethel-Washington says, If you are considering living on post, contact Corvias and get on a waiting list for the type of housing you need.
“That way, if you decide that living on post is your best option, you’ll already be on the waiting list,” Bethel-Washington says.
If you decide to seek off-post housing, the Army Housing Office can help save you money on rental fees. They can also alleviate the large cash deposits that often accompany a new rental. “We have 63 different apartment properties that are part of our Rental Partnership Program for active duty service members,” said Bethel-Washington. “Each of these properties offer a 5 percent discount to military members, require no deposit and don’t charge an application fee.”
Rental Partnership Program properties require residents to use direct deposit for monthly payments.
If your PCS move is taking you away from Fort Meade, you’ll need to clear your home first. Aimee Stafford, the Army Housing Director, says that could mean providing notice to your landlord at least 30 to 60 days in advance. “If your orders require you to break a lease, the Maryland Service Member Relief Act protects service members from penalties,” said Stafford.
Corvias and other housing properties, can provide you a move out checklist that can help alleviate any surprises upon vacating the home.
The Army Housing Office is located 3081 Ernie Pyle and is adjacent to the Corvias Leasing Office. The housing office number is 301-677-7748. You can request a welcome packet that will include maps of the installation and the local area, a list of Rental Partnership Properties as well as information on short term rental options.