Story by Scott Sturkol on 06/26/2019For more than five years, the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Housing Division personnel and offices have been co-located with their customers in the South Post Housing area.
Since the relocation in 2014, the housing area has grown from 57 homes to 113, essentially doubling in size. Twenty-two of those homes are officer homes (nine three-bedroom and 13 four-bedroom), and 91 are enlisted homes (55 three-bedroom and 36 four-bedroom).
Additionally, in those five years, many new personnel have joined the Housing Division. The division team comprises Housing Division Chief Monica Richmond, Housing Manager Zachery (Zach) Hynes, Housing Manager Assistant Brenda Downing, Housing Referral Assistant Robert (Bob) La Rock, and Administrative Assistant Susan (Sue) Bussert.
"We are a traditional family housing management team," Richmond said, referring to the fact that most Army Family Housing offices, especially at large installations, are now part of privatized housing. Privatized housing initiatives have been a part of Department of Defense housing partnerships for more than two decades. "We are still a government-owned and government-operated installation
"I believe that because we are a traditional-style office (in Army-owned housing), we have that face-to-face ability to always be available for our customers the residents," Richmond said. "Our customers know they can come to us with any concerns, and we will help them."
The DPW Housing Division consist of three branches, including the Army Family Housing Office (on-post housing), Housing Services Office (off-post housing), and Unaccompanied Personnel Housing (single Soldier barracks for E-1 to E-5 ranks).
Hynes said the housing team enjoys having daily interactions with the families residing on South Post and being able to quickly respond to anything that needs to be done.
"Being here, close to our customers, and serving as a hub for them is extremely important for our ability to provide great service," Hynes said. "They know where to go and who to talk to."
What's available in housing
The 2014 move included reopening the renovated South Post Community Center, building 6158, which is also the home to Housing Division offices. And adjacent to the community center is the housing warehouse building 6167 which includes a Self-Help Center for housing residents.
The South Post Community Center is a popular venue, Hynes said. It was built in 1931 and previously served as an instructors building and the garrison commander's home.
"We probably average about seven events at the center each month," Hynes said. "We have regular Girl Scout meetings, the USO hosts events regularly, our South Post Housing Community Association meets here on the third Thursday every month, and there's also birthday parties and other events that take place."
The inside of the center features an open-design concept with a conference and meeting area, a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a sitting area with new furniture and a 64-inch flat screen television. The center's front sunroom can be used during warmer weather. To schedule events at the center, residents just need to contact the DPW Housing Office.
The Self-Help Center section of the warehouse is heated and open year-round for residents. The rest of the warehouse is cold storage for spare appliances and other items required for maintenance on Family housing units.
"We're adding more things to the self-help inventory all the time," Hynes said. Residents currently can sign out lawnmowers when needed and also snowblowers in the winter.
When the new housing was added and completed in 2017, Hynes said other improvements were included throughout the housing area as well.
"We have a paved, 2-mile walking path that goes around the entire housing area," Hynes said.
"This path is open year-round as we keep it cleared of snow in the winter. We also have one large playground and four tot lots located throughout the housing area for families to use. We also have a picnic area, basketball and tennis court, and a skate board park."
The area has a community garden nearby where residents can have a plot for free. "All residents have to do is let us know if they are interested in the garden, and we'll work with them to get them started," Hynes said.
Also within the housing area is a recreational vehicle parking area with 32 spaces. "This is an area where residents can park their campers, boats, and other recreational vehicles and equipment for quick access," Hynes said.
How to apply for housing, waiting list
Service members wanting to apply for on-post housing at Fort McCoy can do so through the Army Family Housing Office. Once an application is completed, service members are put on the waiting list.
"To apply, all we need is a copy of their permanent change of station (PCS) orders and a completed housing application," Richmond said.
She said service members should also remember they cannot be added to the list for housing at Fort McCoy until they clear their previous installation.
Hynes said the staff does their best to predict the wait time for service members on the waiting list.
He said it's important for those service members to stay in communication with housing personnel to see where they stand on the list.
"We want open communication, and we want to keep everyone informed as best as possible," Hynes said.
Richmond said when a home becomes available, they call the first name on the top of the list and they go down the list until an offer is accepted.
"People have 72 hours to respond to the offer," Hynes said. "After that, we move to the next person on the list."
Richmond also reminds people who apply for housing to remember that if an older home is offered to a service member and turned down, then that service member's name will be removed from the waiting list or added to the bottom of the waiting list.
The housing staff maintains current, updated copy of the waiting list in the lobby of the Army Family Housing Office, which can be checked during normal business hours.
Off-post housing support
If housing is not available on post or families prefer to live off post, then the housing staff will assist them in finding quality, affordable residential rentals outside of Fort McCoy.
Every incoming service member and his/her family receives an in-briefing that covers housing entitlements and services, Hynes said. Housing staff will also brief service members, families, and civilians on areas covering subjects such as renter's insurance and the military clause, which allows them to terminate their lease if they receive PCS orders or deploy for more than 90 days.
For military families interested in buying a home, the housing staff also maintains basic referral information for what is available in the local housing market area.
"This is where Bob La Rock is very helpful with housing referral," Richmond said. "We can also help if service members are having issues with their landlord. Service members can send leases to us to review before they sign for off-post housing."
"Bob also can perform life, health, and safety inspections on a home for families before they move in, and he can be present during a final move out inspection," Richmond said. "One thing we recommend for everyone is to purchase renters insurance. It's a good thing to have to protect your personal items in case of fire or theft."
The Housing Division also partners with the Army Community Service Relocation Program to offer prospective clients the best and most-current information available for completing a move to Fort McCoy.
For more information about all support and services available by the Housing Division staff, visit their offices in the South Post Community Center.
Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy."