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The Military Family: Rising to the Housing Assignment

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (KRDO) -- There's a corner room in Mindy King's basement that's humming.  She punches in commands, and her embroidery machine awakes. Attaching a blank baseball cap to an attachment, all is ready: the needle punches its design with rapid-fire, without hesitation. 

The medically retired Blackhawk helicopter Crew Chief knows how to fulfill a constant stream of orders -- and this is not different: the cap is one in a running list of orders that she's got in the cue.  And, like any good businesswoman, she's surrounded by inventory -- strips of folded fabric, arranged by kind and order -- in cubby holes. 

Mindy King aboard a Blackhawk helicopter

The fact that she and her family have a house to call their own -- with an area dedicated to her burgeoning business -- she calls a blessing.

When her husband was assigned to Ft. Carson in 2019, they were up against stiff competition for a house -- the sixth installation they've been assigned to in their military careers. 

Mindy King and her husband

"There were hardly any houses on the market at the time," said King.  Because of that, they rented for the first year and a half -- but then were abruptly met with a sharp increase in rent from their landlord.

"Our landlord noticed that our housing allowance had gone up. He was going to bump up our rent by $400 a month," said King.  "Unfortunately, it's more common than people realize."

Each military member gets what is called a Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH.  It's standardized according to rank and whether that person has dependents, and is measured, based upon the cost of living in any given area. 

Even on the top end of the BAH, though, a Brigadier General with children receives $2,844 per month for housing off post -- which doesn't go far in a market where the median price of homes is now just shy of half a million dollars.

"The cost of living is almost unmanageable so -- most of your younger soldiers, you see living on post because there's not another option," said King.

Military members do have perks, should they have a good credit rating: zero-down and VA loans that run an average point less than a conventional 30-year fixed loan.

Those in the service do have the option of living on a military installation, but not always is that a guarantee: according to Ft. Carson, its housing typically runs at 91-92% capacity, and that accounts for 30% of those in total, who are assigned to the Post.

Once receiving orders, a military family might have as little as 30 days to find a place to live -- which puts another stressor on their living arrangements.  If in the Army, that process is typically repeated every three years. 

"If you remove the military out of the equation, finding a home in itself is very challenging," said Realtor Brandon LeCocq, with LPT Realty.  "A nice home, in a nice area is going to go super fast."

LeCocq, an Army veteran himself, specializes in helping military families find their homes.

"Maybe they're not in the state yet.  They have 30 days and they have orders and they have to buy a house before they even get here, so they're not even able to see the home."

For the King Family, her business skills and the family's saving, allowed them to buy the home where they live now in Fountain. 

"48 hours after we had gotten notice of increased rent, we were under contract for this house.  It was a little crazy.  Not what we expected to do at the time, but here we are," King said with a smile. 

Article Topic Follows: Military

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Heather Skold

Heather is the evening anchor for KRDO. Learn more about Heather here.


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