Fort Knox Proves Privatized Housing Can Be Done Right

An old Army tank now stands as a monument near the entrance to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. James Iacocca is the president and CEO of the Knox Regional Development Alliance.

On April 2, 2019, published an article by retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr on bad decisions leading to privatized military housing challenges.

Spoehr made a statement about Fort Knox housing after the departure of 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (3/1). While factually correct, it does not mention how the post and the privatized housing managers, Knox Hills, worked together to ensure housing remained viable on Fort Knox. I would like to share that story.

The Knox Hills housing occupancy rate was around 95.5% when 3/1 was stationed at Fort Knox. After their colors were cased in April 2014 and the families began to depart, the occupancy rate dropped and eventually bottomed out at 69.13%.

However, by judicious use of what is called the waterfall, a process that allows the privatized housing owner to offer homes to retirees, General Schedule (GS) employees and even citizens without any military affiliation (as long as they pass a background check), the team at Knox Hills was able to maintain viability in on-post housing.

By May 2017, three years after hitting 69% occupancy, the team was able to increase that rate to 88%. By September 2017, it had reached 94.62%. Much of this occupancy growth was helped by the stationing of 1st Theater Sustainment Command to Fort Knox. Today, the occupancy rate is at 96.4% -- better than when 3/1 was stationed at the post.

There were some dark and scary days for Knox Hills after the departure of 3/1. According to Knox Hills officials, they were greatly concerned about remaining solvent. But through a team approach with the post and careful use of the waterfall, they survived and are doing very well today. While housing will never be perfect, Fort Knox is NOT beleaguered with the pest, mold and lead paint issues that some posts are dealing with now.

I am in agreement with Spoehr's article on privatized housing; however, I think it is important to know the rest of the story of how Fort Knox managed and overcame the challenges posed by the 3/1 departure.

If you are in the area, come by and visit Fort Knox, and view one of the most well-maintained Army bases in the world.

-- The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to for consideration.

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