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Housing crisis impacting readiness at MacDill Air Force Base

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — At MacDill Air Force Base there is a growing problem for members of the military who are ordered to serve in the Tampa Bay area.

They are not able to find affordable housing in the Tampa Area.

“I recently got a notice saying that come June my rent is going to be increased $500 more a month and of course nobody likes to hear that,” said a young member of the Air Force that asked her name not be used.

For her, the rent increase in Tampa is not something she can pay for with her military housing allowance and her salary.

“So just like anybody, $500 more a month is a lot of money, so looking for a new place to stay, it’s extremely hard in the Tampa area, and that’s going to cause many of us to move out of the Tampa area,” the service member said. “Commuting more than an hour to work every day and expense on our gas, on our tolls, on our time really.”

For base commanders, the longer commutes for their team members are starting to present readiness issues.

“We support getting those airplanes off the ground and sometimes that airplane has to get off the ground very quickly and we have to recall people in,” said the vice base commander at the base, Colonel Corey Damon. “So, if you can imagine if our team is living an hour, an hour and a half in traffic trying to get here in a decent amount of time.”

He said members of the military are being forced to move further away to find housing they can afford.

“Especially in South Tampa, close to the base which provides better, quicker access to the base, better readiness, better resilience for our team, they’re being priced out,” Damon said.

This week, MacDill leaders met with local elected officials and community leaders as part of the newly formed Housing and Resiliency Task Force, to look for short and long-term solutions to the housing crisis.

Colonel Damon said the current housing allowance isn’t enough to keep up with rapidly increasing rents and for many service members who are ordered to serve at MacDill, there isn’t enough housing on-base.

“We have on-base housing that we try to maximize, in fact right now we are at 98% capacity and we have a long, long wait list,” Damon said. “We just don’t have enough on base.”

Damon said base leaders will continue to work with the community to find solutions, but right now there are no quick fixes to a rapidly changing housing market.

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