Portsmouth, Va. - An e-mail through Navy commands flooded inboxes of sailors stationed around the Hampton Roads area from Lincoln Military Housing, offering a "unique opportunity" to "single sailors never before seen in this region."
Thirty two-bedroom "family homes" at Stanley Court in Portsmouth that will now house 60 single sailors at discounted rent.
Immediately, families who now live in Lincoln Homes came forward to NewsChannel 3, outraged at the idea.
“You're inviting trouble into our neighborhoods.”
“That would break our community.”
“They are just after that bottom line.”
Meet Belinda Hay, Kitty Greentree and Kimberly Caldwell.
All three women are longtime Navy wives and mothers, and longtime military housing residents.
“We moved into military housing because with my husband deploying frequently, we liked living in a military community. I want my neighbors to understand my situation,” said Greentree.
“Everyone knows what you're going through because you have that common bond,” said Hay. “Husbands come and go, and you lean on each other for support.”
Now they are worried about what single sailors would bring into their neighborhoods.
“More partying, more irresponsibility, and they don’t recognize there are small children around,” said Caldwell.
Their other concern comes down to simple fairness.
Each single sailor living in Lincoln would pay only $683 a month.
According to military housing allowance charts, that would mean they pocket at least $400 a month and potentially hundreds more if they are of higher rank.
In comparison, military families are forced to pay every single penny of their housing allowance, regardless of the size of their home.
“It’s not really fair that they get to keep a big chunk, and we have already forked out all of ours,” said Hay.
“It’s giving a cash kickback at the government’s expense,” said Greentree.
Single sailors, though, could be just the beginning of their problems.
After a NewsChannel 3 investigation one year ago revealed moldy Lincoln housing, many military families decided to move out.
“There are a lot of homes vacant in our area,” said Hay.
“On my former court, there are six houses open right now,” said Caldwell.
“They are afraid. They are afraid of lack of service, afraid of living in a home that’s deteriorating and afraid of illness,” said Greentree.
Lincoln has recruited to fill the vacancies, giving away cash and iPads to families who refer friends.
If they can't get enough military families or single sailors to move in, per Lincoln's contract with the Navy, they can start renting to civilians.
“I never saw it coming,” said Greentree.
These families never knew it could happen, because there was no mention of it in their leases.
“It’s military housing. When you take the military out, it won’t be the same,” said Hay.
“You don’t want to have to worry about who is moving in across the street or next door. You want that sense of community, and that sense of community is going to be ripped away.”
Other military housing companies around the country have already started the practice, with some renting to people with Section 8 vouchers.
“If I found out Section 8 [residents] were living in our housing. I would want to move out, plain and simple,” said Hay.
“Perhaps they think this is a solution, but it’s a poor choice,” said Greentree.
So what should the Navy and Lincoln do with Stanley Court housing, instead of opening it up to single sailors?
“Honestly, I think they need to tear it down and provide bigger units for the families,” said Hay.
“I really want LMH to consider military families, the unique lifestyle that we live, and the real need for quality housing at these bases in Hampton Roads,” said Greentree.
Neither the Navy nor Lincoln would answer our questions about whether they would be allowing civilians or Section 8 into housing.
Lincoln Military Housing released this statement:
“We’re proud of our service to all members of the military, and are proud to offer this great option to a few of them because they deserve it. We’re confident these neighborhoods will be stronger, safer and better because of this program, and we will listen to and address any concerns some people may have.”
Navy Region Mid-Atlantic released this statement:
"The U.S. Navy remains advocates for our sailors and their families in providing safe and healthy communities. Privatized Navy housing competes in the marketplace to attract residents who sign leases and make monthly rental payments. Sufficient occupancy rates are necessary for the financial health of the partnership and to enable the community improvements that everyone wants and deserves. If there is a lack of demand from military families, the business agreement allows the Navy housing office to refer other preferred groups to our PPV housing partner, such as military families from other branches of service, the U.S. Coast Guard and single service members. This has been done successfully in other PPV communities across the services. The Stanley Court neighborhood in Portsmouth has 121 two, three and four bedroom units. Of the 64 two bedroom units, there are only 23 vacant. We have trust and confidence that all military members, single or with families, who move into PPV communities will remain respectful of their neighbors and adhere to the rules and regulations they agree to in their contract".