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DoD delays launch of rental housing website

Sep. 4, 2014 - 03:48PM   |  
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The launch of a new Defense Department website aimed at helping service members and their families find available rental housing has been delayed indefinitely, an official said.

The Homes.mil site was scheduled to go live the last week in August for property managers, and Sept. 8 for troops and families. But it is still undergoing a security review by Navy officials, said Ed Wright, a spokesman for Commander, Navy Installations Command.

“There is no time frame” for finalizing that review, he said.

The site is designed to help connect troops and families with available rentals in civilian communities, privatized military housing and government-owned housing. It will launch for all DoD installations worldwide simultaneously as a replacement for the Automated Housing Referral Network, which provided the service under DoD contract until Dec. 31.

When the AHRN contract began in 2004, it managed initially by DoD, but was later taken over by the Navy.

The Navy ended the AHRN contract because the system didn’t meet information security requirements under federal law and department policy, a Navy official said last year. The Navy owns and manages the new system, and the other service branches, including the Coast Guard, are participating.

Although it no longer receives government funding, the AHRN.com site continues to provide housing information to troops, and is funded by advertising and sponsorships. About 1.2 million service members and more than 220,000 landlords and property managers are registered on AHRN; registered users can use their previous account information.

Now, however, AHRN is open to the entire military community, including National Guard and reserve personnel, retirees and other veterans.

The AHRN.com site has included a feature allowing troops to compare rental listings that fall within their Basic Allowance for Housing rate. There are no plans to carry that function over to the new Homes.mil site.

Navy officials said the new site will be supported by rigorous firewalls, security protocols and processes.

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