To the MFAN family:
We are writing to share news that will positively impact the lives of military families in military housing, quite substantially.
In early 2019, the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) conducted a research effort to understand military families’ experiences in privatized military housing. The response was overwhelming, as were the findings. In just one week, nearly 17,000 military families spoke up, sharing major housing issues, allowing MFAN to become their voice. Since then, we have been working with policymakers, the Department of Defense, the Services, the Government Accountability Office, and numerous non-governmental agencies to share what was learned and make recommendations for the path ahead.
Along the way, there has also been some serendipity. At a privatized housing hearing in December 2019, MFAN became acquainted with the in-house counsel at Hunt Military Communities. During conversations that followed, we established rapport and realized we had a common purpose. We had frank and honest conversations around housing and what could be done to demonstrate Hunt’s commitment to its residents and all military families.
It was during those conversations – which weren’t always easy – that it became clear that the experiences of military families living in Hunt homes weren’t always making it to Hunt leadership. As the organization that uncovered the breadth and severity of housing issues, we knew this is something MFAN could help fix.
Then, COVID-19 turned life upside down for everyone, especially military families whose move orders were halted. We heard from military families who were at risk of homelessness due to the stop move order. Families had sold homes or told landlords they would be out by a certain date, and they literally found themselves with nowhere to go. We made a big ask of Hunt: offer short-term leases to military families who have found themselves without housing due to the PCS halt. Not only did Hunt step up and offer short-term leases, but it also brought three other housing counterparts with them: Lincoln, Balfour Beatty, and Corvias. It is always true that actions speak louder than words, and this action spoke volumes. Hunt Military Communities rallied quickly to help because it was the right thing to do. We noticed.
Today, MFAN and Hunt Military Communities announce that we are taking our collaboration a step further because together, we are committed to uncovering problems and building solutions. Through this partnership, Hunt and MFAN will build an online housing feedback loop, where Hunt residents can share their experiences directly with MFAN, confidentially. MFAN will act as the trusted conduit and report what it is learning directly from families to Hunt leadership. This is an investment in transparency to understand what is happening in Hunt’s communities, in real-time. And this partnership goes beyond housing issues; it will examine two other challenges identified through MFAN’s recent research efforts: military family food insecurity and intimate partner violence. Taken together, these efforts are aimed at improving the lives of those military families living in Hunt homes.
At MFAN, we believe in the power of information. We’ve seen our data become the conduit for change that military families need. But we also believe that it’s not enough just to spotlight the problems. Data is most powerful when it informs solutions.
We will continue to update all of you on our progress with these projects. We are grateful for Hunt’s sincere and serious investment in understanding the major issues that impact military families. Working together, we know that we can improve lives.