The number of rental properties in the Killeen area is rapidly dwindling, according to the Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors.
And despite rumors that the rental properties are being snatched up by soldiers from Fort Hood, the installation accounts for less than half of those interested in renting properties in the area, said Nancy Sisco-Carothers, governmental affairs director for the realty association. Another big factor is people from areas such as Georgetown, who normally would not have considered moving into the area, are now finding the area much more attractive due to the lower cost of rentals and lower cost of living.
“It certainly plays into the picture,” she said. “It’s partly the military and soldiers coming back from deployments, and the new Interstate 14 designation (of Highway 190) will continue to impact the rental market.
“Everybody is so busy right now that it is unusual to not have more than two applications at a time for a rental.”
Whether a potential renter is a member of the military does not, however, give them a preference over a non-military renter, Sisco-Carothers said. Realty companies are not allowed to discriminate against any potential renter under the Fair Housing Act, which was passed into law April 11, 1968.
The act keeps any person from being discriminated against when it concerns “the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status,” according to hud.gov.
Fort Hood recently increased the number of soldiers eligible to move out of the barracks and into the local economy, however.
Due to renovations of barracks — the living quarters for single soldiers — and the return of major units such as the 3rd Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team from deployment, there are currently not enough rooms to house all the junior enlisted soldiers reporting to the post, said Fort Hood spokesman Christopher Haug. To make room for them, higher ranking, single enlisted soldiers have been given authorization to move out of the barracks and collect a housing allowance.
“There are 99 cantonment barracks at Fort Hood. Twenty of these are under renovation and unoccupied. For the 79 occupied barracks, the occupancy rate is more than 95 percent,” Haug said.
When all renovations are completed, Fort Hood will be able to house 16,000 single soldiers within the barracks, according to Brian Dosa, the director of Fort Hood’s directorate of public works. Each barracks will be able to house approximately 160 soldiers in one- or two-person rooms.
“With all major units back from deployment and 20 of the 99 Fort Hood barracks under renovation, we have issued nearly 800 Certificates of Non-availability for more senior single soldiers to live off post and make room for the younger soldiers to live on post in the barracks,” Dosa said. “The decision to move a soldier from the barracks to an off-post apartment or house is made by the chain of command in discussion with the soldier.”
The shortage of properties can be a good thing for the local economy, however, Sisco-Carothers said. In a healthy economy where more people are buying, building and renting properties, more people who want to invest in building are coming into the area.
“It means more people buying things, brings more people into businesses,” she said. “It’s all positive.”