For the first time ever, civilians now have the option to live on Barksdale Air Force Base. The news is creating a strong reaction from the people who already live there.
Barksdale Family Housing is opening up the base to the public to fill up empty houses. The plan caught retired military wife Gina Slusser off guard.
"I was actually surprised," she said. "Why would they want to open the base to everyone like that?"
Slusser and her husband, a retired airman, say they enjoyed the privilege of living on base while he was active duty.
"It just seems a little unfair to let the private sector in and have access to the things that were our rights, or privileges from your spouse serving in the air force," she said.
Slusser isn't the only one who has taken issue with the new plan.
"We definitely have had an influx of calls, but we have been handling each call that has come in," said Dreamer Dowden, the community director of Barksdale Family Housing.
Dowden explained they had to make the move because there just aren't enough active duty airmen and families choosing to live on base.
"In order to provide the same amenities to those that are taking that privilege, we need to be able to fill those homes," she said.
Dowden says housing priority will go first to active duty airmen and their families, then single active duty airmen, and civilians will get last priority.
"Through that, the prospects [civilians] will undergo rigorous background checks," she explained.
However, the base won't be open to civilians forever, just until they fill enough houses.
"Once we reach 95 percent in capacity, we will no longer give new leases to civilians," Dowden said.
She added that one of the most common misunderstandings is civilians will get better rent rates. She said the rates for all housing on base will be the same for everyone, whether civilian or active duty.
The monthly rental rates for homes for civilians are based on selection and market rental rates and include single-family and duplex-style homes. Rental rates start at $1,049 for a two bedrooms and $1,278 for three and four bedroom.
This includes electric, water, sewer, trash and recycling disposal, a $20,000 renters' insurance policy, private gated access, lawn mowing services and 24/7 emergency maintenance- all in a pet-friendly community.
Civilians must qualify at the Barksdale Family Housing office at 201 Langley Dr. and meet income and background requirements.
Those interested in leasing a Barksdale Family Housing home can call (318) 747-2723 or visit www.barksdalefamilyhousing.com to make an appointment to view the community.
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