Housing Help for Service Members - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/25/06

Housing Help for Service Members

They've lived in tents and trailers in Iraq for the last year. Now they're home, but some Third Infantry Division soldiers are having a tough time finding homes on the home front. When soldiers deploy for a year, a lot of times they'll give up their off-post apartments.

You can imagine the housing rush around Hinesville when 20,000 of them come back at once.

"There is a housing rush," said Staff Sgt. Michael Anderson. "Coming home after just about the whole division's back, and most of the apartments are gone. The earlier you get back, the faster you can find a place. The later, it's a lot harder."

So it's been busy at the Norman Realty & Management office. "Weekends, extra hours, coming in early," said the company's Leigh Ayala-Meerwald. "We manage over 600 properties, so we had quite a few vacancies. Now we're down to one home and about four mobile homes and that's about it. We had probably about ten pages of the rental list, and now it's down to one page. On the front."

Sgt. Anderson's been back nearly a month, and just found a place this week. Once you're in Hinesville, you can just come to a real estate office and take a look at the listings. But Sgt. Anderson went online, got a jump on his home search from the desert.

He used a new online real estate listing just for service members.

"In the past, all the landlords would fax us listings and we would consolidate it," said Anita Gordon, a housing referral assistant at Fort Stewart. "Now we've got our new Automated Housing Referral Network, and the property owners can manage their listing themselves. They can put pictures, descriptions, actually link their email. The soldier can actually correspond with them."

Which helps give soldiers coming home a place to go.

You can take a look at the AHRN system at www.ahrn.com.

The system's proved pretty popular already around the Coastal Empire, but it's available nationwide. They say it'll help take some of the hassle out of getting transferred to or from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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