I would like to take the opportunity to provide my thoughts on Wednesday’s article, “Navy study finds no Whidbey housing shortage.” Per Navy policies on transparency, and answering the request by this newspaper’s staff, we provided our housing analysis for review.
This analysis was never designed to be a comprehensive review of the overall housing issues of Island and Skagit counties, and our study is only one piece of the puzzle to be added to the analyses conducted by other entities to build a complete picture of the housing challenges in the Puget Sound.
It is important to note that the Navy does recognize the many housing challenges in the local housing market, that there are many variables contributing to those challenges, and that our recent growth contributed to those challenges.
We remain committed to continuing working with the community and elected officials to address these important issues.
Finding suitable housing remains the top “quality of life” issue for Navy sailors and housing challenges remains a top concern brought up in every single engagement I have with local elected officials.
Our study, contracted by the Navy, provides a point in time from last winter, and showed a deficit of 177 homes in 2017, and I can tell from our tremendous level of effort of working with sailors that receive orders to NAS Whidbey that it is a difficult and stressful process to find suitable housing in our defined housing market area.
This experience working with our incoming families provides us insights into the local housing markets that we share throughout the community, as we did with the Whidbey News Times last week.
It is also important to note that our three-squadron growth over the last year is complete, and this stabilization of our base population should allow us to better understand the current issues.
Projected future growth aligned with the most substantial personnel alternative in the EA-18G Growler Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), is partially offset by the future scheduled decommissioning of several units on base. We foresee only a slight growth of approximately 350 personnel from our current levels through 2024.
We budgeted for another Housing Require-ments and Market Analysis to be completed once the final EIS is released next fall.
NAS Whidbey is extremely aware of local community housing issues and will continue to proactively engage with local leaders and be transparent in our growth and efforts.
We recognize the symbiotic nature of our activities with the local economy, and we look forward to continue our great relationships to solve our common problems.
• Capt. Geoff Moore is Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island