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Up to 1,500 military housing units sit empty, auditor general says

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DAA

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/auditor-general-military-houses-1.3430151

Mods, feel free to merge into something more appropriate if necessary.
 

runormal

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I really don't like how this article is written as it seems really vague.

Especially this

But the auditor says National Defence does not routinely look at what is available outside its walls, and the private market could in some cases meet the needs of members, notably in Halifax and Valcartier, Que.

Also, myriad regulations limit what can be charged, and in some cases rent for base accommodation is cheaper, particularly in Bagotville, Que., Edmonton and Winnipeg — a discrepancy Ferguson calls unfair to soldiers who choose to live off-base.

Because it says in some areas it suggests that PMQ's aren't needed. Whereas in other bases it suggests that there are likely excess houses as the price is below market value.

However It'd be nice to have a summary/spreadsheet showing which areas have excess and which areas are at capacity, that way I could make an educated opinion about the situation. 

NDP MP David Christopherson was outraged and accused the department of being more concerned about buying bullets and bombs than the more important aspects of billets and bread.

I now see why people in the CAF don't take the NDP seriously.
 
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jollyjacktar

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Why should they be surprised if many PMQ are empty?  When you can get a mortgage in many instances for less than the rent they want to gouge, it's no wonder living on the economy is more attractive. 
 

dapaterson

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The bigger question is why the CAF should be in the rental business at all.
 

Brasidas

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Because no sane person would want to buy a house in Shilo, and likewise there are places we get posted that don't have a whole lot of housing options.
 

dapaterson

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Brasidas said:
Because no sane person would want to buy a house in Shilo, and likewise there are places we get posted that don't have a whole lot of housing options.

So why housing in Halifax?  Edmonton? Toronto? Winnipeg?  Kingston?  Esquimalt?  Valcartier? That's roughly 4200 housing units.

The CAF needs to break away from some of its "Well, we've always done these things" mentality and ask the "Why?"


(Sort of like why do we need CANEX, which is only profitable because it pays no rent?)
 

Occam

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dapaterson said:
The bigger question is why the CAF should be in the rental business at all.

I dare say anyone posted into Edmonton this APS would love a PMQ, considering the alternative of a real estate market that's plummeting like a rock.
 

dapaterson

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Occam said:
I dare say anyone posted into Edmonton this APS would love a PMQ, considering the alternative of a real estate market that's plummeting like a rock.

Rent rather than buy.
... rental condominium vacancy rates ranged from a high of 5.3 per cent in Edmonton...
http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/nero/nere/2015/2015-11-02-0815.cfm

 

Humphrey Bogart

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I've never owned a house since joining mostly because I've never been posted somewhere long enough to really justify it. 

Likewise, I've never lived in the Qs, not even in Petawawa.  Most of the Qs are poor value for money as you can find nicer apartments for a comparable price in most places. 

That being said, this all comes back to having too many bases, most of which are in crappy areas with little to no services outside of what is provided by the military.

Imagine if Petawawa lost all its PMQs?  We are talking an influx of several thousand soldiers plus dependents looking for housing.  The situation would be a disaster. 

 

PuckChaser

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Humphrey Bogart said:
Imagine if Petawawa lost all its PMQs?  We are talking an influx of several thousand soldiers plus dependents looking for housing.  The situation would be a disaster.

Housing is already a disaster there, the prices are ridiculous. You either get 1940s war homes in deplorable state for $150k, or brand new at over $300k. Or you drive for a half hour just to get to the base.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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PuckChaser said:
Housing is already a disaster there, the prices are ridiculous. You either get 1940s war homes in deplorable state for $150k, or brand new at over $300k. Or you drive for a half hour just to get to the base.

Yes, lets not even mention that many families in Petawawa are single income families due to the lack of suitable employment for spouses.  The military has a responsibility to look after its members and part of that responsibility involves providing suitable accommodations when it posts members to some of our more illustrious bases. 

We continue to abdicate all responsibility in the name of saving a buck.  Only for every buck we save, we spend three trying to unfudge the problem we created by saving said buck.
 

PuckChaser

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Absolutely.

I also wonder what PMQs are empty that are below market rate? CFHA makes sure it gets every dollar out of soldiers by raising rent every year like clockwork. Those 1500 empty PMQs are likely empty because they're 1950s pieces of crap full of asbestos, mold, no basement, 1 bathroom, and miniature bedrooms. 3 Bedroom, 900 sq ft no basement PMQ in Kingston was $950 a month. 3 Bedroom, full basement, 2.5 bath new build home 5 minutes from base was $1300 a month.
 

dapaterson

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At what point do we treat military personnel as responsible adults, capable of making their own decisions, and compensated sufficiently to care for themselves?  How much hand-holding is needed?  Pte(3) is over $48K, as is the lowest paid Lt(1).  Those are liveable wages that increase over time.


(For those interested, the full OAG report on military housing is at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201602_05_e_41062.html)
 

Humphrey Bogart

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dapaterson said:
So why housing in Halifax?  Edmonton? Toronto? Winnipeg?  Kingston?  Esquimalt?  Valcartier? That's roughly 4200 housing units.

The CAF needs to break away from some of its "Well, we've always done these things" mentality and ask the "Why?"


(Sort of like why do we need CANEX, which is only profitable because it pays no rent?)

Why does CANEX need to make money at all?  It provides our soldiers a service and is widely used, good enough for me.

Sorry, but the CAF isn't a for profit organization. 

dapaterson said:
At what point do we treat military personnel as responsible adults, capable of making their own decisions, and compensated sufficiently to care for themselves?  How much hand-holding is needed?  Pte(3) is over $48K, as is the lowest paid Lt(1).  Those are liveable wages that increase over time.


(For those interested, the full OAG report on military housing is at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201602_05_e_41062.html)

I think you need to spend a little time away from FOB Ottawa, it's clearly impacting your views.  More time outside the wire required.

 

dapaterson

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What core combat or combat support capability does CANEX provide?  Why should the military be in the business of running a third rate chain of retail stores?  Why should money that could buy boots or clothes or fuel or vehicles or ammo be spent so people can pay the same price as Best Buy for a TV?

The question of military housing is the same: if there is no viable local market, providing housing makes sense (and is aligned with policy).  But Kingston, for example, has a population of over 100000.  Why does the military need to own & maintain 497 housing units there?  Certainly, some SQs for courses are a good use of money (cheaper than sticking people in the Holiday Inn), but why should DND/CAF spend time, effort and money to be a third rate landlord?
 
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jollyjacktar

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So then what's your solution to do with all these Qs that are within the base proper?  Tear them down?  Then what?  Rent them out to civvies? 

Maybe if they didn't gouge the hell out of us to rent these boxes, folks might make use of them.  It annoys the hell out of me how we've turned into a profit making business.  Those Qs have been paid for time and time again.  Charging way more than their upkeep/upgrade costs and a fair admin mark up beyond that is BS.  Just like the paid parking garbage.
 

Halifax Tar

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dapaterson said:
What core combat or combat support capability does CANEX provide?  Why should the military be in the business of running a third rate chain of retail stores?  Why should money that could buy boots or clothes or fuel or vehicles or ammo be spent so people can pay the same price as Best Buy for a TV?

The question of military housing is the same: if there is no viable local market, providing housing makes sense (and is aligned with policy).  But Kingston, for example, has a population of over 100000.  Why does the military need to own & maintain 497 housing units there?  Certainly, some SQs for courses are a good use of money (cheaper than sticking people in the Holiday Inn), but why should DND/CAF spend time, effort and money to be a third rate landlord?

As long as you forcibly and without choice move people, throwing second incomes and standards of living into chaos, you should offer a reasonable residence as an option.  If military members don't require them they will let the GOC, CAF and CFHA know this by not renting them anymore. 

Whats your beef with CANEX ?  You realize its an NPF organization right ?  Other than lost rental revenue, much like SISP, it doesn't cost the CAF anything.  In fact I would argue it provides CAF members a chance to purchase goods with the profits going back into the pot for the betterment of the people as whole. 

 

rmc_wannabe

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dapaterson said:
At what point do we treat military personnel as responsible adults, capable of making their own decisions, and compensated sufficiently to care for themselves?  How much hand-holding is needed?  Pte(3) is over $48K, as is the lowest paid Lt(1).  Those are liveable wages that increase over time.

As a responsible adult capable of making my own decisions, I wouldn't normally decide to move to a place like Victoria on 48K. Likewise I wouldn't sink money into a property and then sell it in 4-7 years to take a loss. We have the unfortunate circumstances of being told where and when to move and for a lot of people (myself included) PMQs allow the flexibility to keep QOL depending on where we are told we're going to live for the next few years.
 

dapaterson

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jollyjacktar said:
So then what's your solution to do with all these Qs that are within the base proper?  Tear them down?  Then what?  Rent them out to civvies? 

Sell off the portfolio.  Let private industry run it.  They have experience in doing it; we do not.  Again: why should DND/CAF be a third rate residential landlord?

Maybe if they didn't gouge the hell out of us to rent these boxes, folks might make use of them.  It annoys the hell out of me how we've turned into a profit making business.  Those Qs have been paid for time and time again.  Charging way more than their upkeep/upgrade costs and a fair admin mark up beyond that is BS.  Just like the paid parking garbage.

If prices are so terrible, why not rent elsewhere?  In remote locations, that may not be an option (and would be a sensible place to keep quarters).  But HRM has a viable rental market.  Kingston has a viable rental market.

As for paid parking: Why are you so special that you deserve free parking, where other workers do not?
 

dapaterson

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Halifax Tar said:
Whats your beef with CANEX ?  You realize its an NPF organization right ?  Other than lost rental revenue, much like SISP, it doesn't cost the CAF anything.  In fact I would argue it provides CAF members a chance to purchase goods with the profits going back into the pot for the betterment of the people as whole.

CANEX loses money, deters competiton because of those subsidies, and serves no military utility.  It costs PILT; it costs infrastructure investments that could be made elsewhere.

And since the profits are an accounting fiction, it's just consuming O&M that could be used to pay for sea days, field training days, or days in 4 star hotels (depending on your environment).

Again: Why does DND/CAF need to run a third rate chain of retail stores?


(EDIT: fixing the inevitable typos that occur when posting before coffee)
 
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