Housing Referral Office saves time, headaches

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Any Air Force member who has moved from one base to another has probably dealt with the headache that comes with squandering the time and money it takes trying to find a home for themselves and their families.

For Holloman assigned personnel, finding a home, on or off base, can be very difficult, but the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron's Housing Referral Office can help.

Sandra Nurse, 49th CES Housing Referral specialist, is the base's go-to person to equip Team Holloman members with the available tools needed to find suitable housing within Alamogordo and the surrounding communities.

"I inform the members of their housing options," said Ms. Nurse. "In order for a member to enter into a lease with Soaring Heights they must obtain a written referral from our office. For off base rentals, I direct them to AHRN.com (Automated Housing Referral Network). "

AHRN.com is a necessary component the Housing Referral Office uses to accomplish their mission, said Sam Ortiz, 49th CES Quality Assurance officer.

"The idea behind AHRN is simple, but very effective," he said. "Free of charge, local property managers and Holloman members can register their houses on the site. These properties are easily visible to people coming to Holloman when they search the site for available housing in the local area. The site is only available to military members and DOD civilians, and it saves the time, expenses and headaches that usually accompany a move."

Getting exposure for the program, which was implemented in the Department Of Defense in 2005 but not at Holloman until 2007, is now one of the Housing Referral Office's main priorities.

"It's my job, as the referral specialist to promote the site to the local property managers and most importantly to the incoming and outgoing military members so they will know where to look to find homes for rent in our local community and the community in which they are reassigned after Holloman," said Ms. Nurse. "AHRN is sponsored by all branches of the military; it's available at 513 installations and is the primary source used by government housing offices to assist members in finding housing."

Although future Team Holloman members can look at available houses in the local area before they get here, Ms. Nurse encourages them to still make it a point to stop in at the Housing Referral Office before they sign a lease.

The information the Housing Referral Office provides can be vital in protecting the potential resident, explained Ms. Nurse.

"Members who didn't take the opportunity to come by and see us miss out on a wealth of vital information that can prevent them from having a bad rental experience," she said. "Inspecting homes listed on AHRN is a time consuming, strenuous task but I try my best to view as many as possible in the time allotted. If a member finds a property listing on the website without an inspection logo, I don't want them to automatically assume it's bad. I ask that they please contact our office for additional information."

Ms. Nurse advises Holloman members on rental and lease agreements, the military clause, tenant-landlord regulations and fair housing laws. She also investigates and mediates complaints between landlords and tenants

"I want to make sure our Team Holloman members are armed with adequate information to cover themselves and avoid being taken advantage of," she said. "This service is offered so that the Landlord and tenant reach a mutual agreement to avoid a court battle."

With the on-base housing and dorm occupation levels close to 100 percent capacity, the Housing Referral Office cannot stress how important it is to get housing information directly from them.

"For those members who volunteer to sponsor an inbound member, June, July and August are the biggest Permanent Change of Station months and currently the on base housing is operating at 98 to 100 percent occupancy, so it is important to come directly to the housing office for accurate information."

For more information on AHRN, contact the Housing Referral Office at 575-572-7832.