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Housing Web site fully functioning

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Matt Proietti
  • Air Force News Agency
WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- A free Department of Defense-sponsored housing referral Web site is fully operational for Air Force members and civilian employees looking for homes in the continental U.S.

The Automated Housing Referral Network at www.ahrn.com contains listings for:

· Off-base rentals
· On-base military housing
· Shared rentals
· Temporary lodging
· Homes being sold by military members

The system is designed to help customers find new homes faster and more easily, said Judith Teague, housing program manager at the Air Force's Office of the Civil Engineer.

It does this, she said, by including detailed descriptions of homes, pictures and maps. The network also allows military members to send messages and place free advertisements to sell or rent a home.

"You can be in Baghdad and look at homes with your spouse who is back in the U.S.," said Ms. Teague.

The system has allowed the number of direct moves to increase, in which families move from their former home into a new one without staying in temporary on-base facility as was normal practice, she said.

Previously, nearly 80 percent of household goods shipments were delivered to storage facilities because military members had not secured housing before their move.

Housing office staff members at each base approve property managers and ensure that listings meet their standards. The Web site is free for property managers to use.

"Managers upload new listings themselves," said Ms. Teague. "It makes the data more up to date. One of the biggest complaints (formerly) was properties (showing as available) had already been rented."

It is in use at 158 installations, including 68 Air Force continental U.S. locations.
The network automatically computes a user's basic allowance for housing data and responds with properties in that range plus or minus 25 percent.

The site has about 180,000 registered users, with nearly 55,000 visiting the site in March alone to view over 26,000 property listings.

The next goal is to have the site include overseas listings, starting with homes in Europe. The program is being tested at Kaiserslautern Military Community, which includes Ramstein Air Base.

Lt. Gen. Kevin Sullivan, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support, said the system better meets the needs of computer-savvy Airmen.

"We weren't being very good at keeping up with the times," said General Sullivan. "Most of our customers use the Web a great deal (and) with all of the deployments (people face), house hunting trips are tough to schedule. Spouses are disconnected -- they're not together -- so this meets their needs."

Jim English, a housing referral assistant at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., said the network is easy to use and has become more popular.

"It's pretty intuitive; it's not too challenging to use," he said. "As long as everyone's maintaining (the listings), it's a pretty accurate snapshot."

A related system is www.militarymovingstation.com, where military home buyers and sellers can obtain free real estate counseling assistance by personal advisers who have been screened by military housing officials.