September 12, 2011

As BRAC officially ends, a snapshot of where people live

All the federal jobs targeted for relocation to Maryland in the national military base reshuffling effort are in place now, in advance of Thursday's deadline.

So where is everyone?

Thanks to the Army and the Chesapeake Science & Security Corridor, we have a fairly detailed picture of where employees of C4ISR -- the acronym for the umbrella group of high-tech organizations that moved from Fort Monmouth in New Jersey to Aberdeen Proving Ground -- are now living.

The intel on Fort Meade newcomers is much less specific, but I've got some demographics from the largest agency to relocate there.

Aberdeen first:

Continue reading "As BRAC officially ends, a snapshot of where people live" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: BRAC

December 2, 2010

Where BRAC migrants are moving

Most of the people moving to Aberdeen Proving Ground for BRAC are settling in Harford County, with Cecil County the second most popular destination.

That's according to a report from the Chesapeake Science & Security Corridor, which has data for 2,400 workers whose jobs had transferred by September for the military base realignment and closure effort.

These are employees, mostly civilian, with C4ISR, the Army team of organizations that had been headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

ZIP code with the most BRAC folks: 21015, Bel Air. More than 350 are living there, with an additional 225 in Bel Air's 21014 ZIP. Havre de Grace, north of the base, is another popular spot.

Here's the breakdown by county:

Continue reading "Where BRAC migrants are moving" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: BRAC

June 23, 2010

BRAC jobs and the housing market

We've been hearing about BRAC -- and all its splendiferous jobs -- for five years now. But the big growth related to the base realignment and closure effort is finally on the way.

More details here, including the nearly 1,500 jobs moving to Aberdeen Proving Ground in August and September.

So what does this mean for the housing market?

Officials at the Residences at Bulle Rock in Havre de Grace say at least a third of their home sales this year have been to BRAC buyers. There was a lot of looking last year, but now people are signing on the dotted line.

"We anticipate the benefits to be for four, five, six years," said Brenda Desjardins, a spokeswoman for the golf-course community. "The trend we're seeing from people moving from Fort Monmouth is they do want to stay in that 95 corridor. They're tending to buy in Aberdeen and points north because they do want to keep that ... affiliation with New Jersey."

Deborah T. Devlin, director of human resources for the Army's Communications-Electronics Command, part of the C4ISR team that's moving from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen, is seeing a split in BRAC staffers' location preferences. 

Continue reading "BRAC jobs and the housing market" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:12 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: BRAC

October 3, 2009

Uncle Sam offers relocating military personnel some aid

There's nothing like having to relocate during a housing slump to give you heartburn if you're a homeowner, especially if you bought just a few years ago. But if you're in the military, you might be due some help.

The Department of Defense -- which employs a lot of people who have to move around every few years -- has $555 million earmarked to reimburse personnel for some of the difference between their purchase and selling price. That includes BRAC folks, the people moving to Maryland (and elsewhere in the country) for the national base realignment and closure process.

While the initiative "is not designed to pay 100 percent of losses or to cover all declines in value, it can help protect eligible applicants from financial catastrophe due to significant losses in their home values," the DOD said.

Here's how the agency is prioritizing the money, which comes from the February stimulus package:

1. Homeowners wounded, injured, or ill in the line of duty while deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, and relocating in furtherance of medical treatment;

2. Surviving spouse homeowners relocating within two years after the death of their spouse;

3. Homeowners affected by the 2005 BRAC round, without the need (which existed under previous law) to prove that a base closure announcement caused a local housing market decline; and

4. Service member homeowners receiving orders dated on or after Feb. 1, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2009, for a permanent change of station (PCS) move. The orders must specify a report-no-later-than date on or before Feb. 28, 2010, to a new duty station or home port outside a 50-mile radius of the service member’s former duty station. These dates may be extended to Sept. 30, 2012, based on availability of funds.

More details about the expanded Homeowners Assistance Program here. Might this apply to you?

And for non-military folks: Have any of you received help from your employer for a relocation?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: BRAC, Relocating

September 16, 2009

Choosing where to move: BRAC edition

Harford County figures it's bused 1,000 people down from New Jersey over the past two years to tour its communities. Cecil County has had bus tours of its own, plus one economic development employee there has -- by her count -- conducted 76 individual tours by car, van and truck just this year. Baltimore County organized a bus tour in May for about 70 people. And last weekend, Live Baltimore gave 33 folks a two-day "consider the city" pitch.

Relocating here for BRAC? You are in demand, in case you hadn't noticed.

The national base realignment and closure process is sending thousands of jobs to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County. Because Fort Meade's jobs are largely coming from nearby Northern Virginia, the "won't you be my neighbor" action is focused on Fort Monmouth workers whose jobs are headed from New Jersey to APG.

I tagged along on Live Baltimore's BRAC tour on Sunday -- you can read the story about it here -- and it was interesting to see the city through the eyes of Fort Monmouth workers. The chatter ranged from property taxes to neighborhood comparisons -- Homeland reminded one worker of Princeton -- to "The Wire," the critically acclaimed HBO drama that isn't exactly an advertisement for Baltimore's quality of life.

Continue reading "Choosing where to move: BRAC edition" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: BRAC

August 6, 2009

BRAC folks in demand

If you're trying to sell a home in Harford or Anne Arundel counties, you're probably eager to see some of those much-discussed BRAC people. You know, the government and government-contractor employees whose jobs are being relocated to Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade.

But there's competition. Delaware's New Castle County wants to benefit from the base realignment and closure, too, and it said this week that it's put together a 52-page relocation guide for incoming APG workers. (You can see the website version here.) The county promises "modest property tax rates and fees when compared with counties in adjoining states," and a "great mix of urban, suburban and rural."

Baltimore, in between the two bases, is also hoping for BRAC movers. Live Baltimore, the nonprofit that promotes Baltimore living, has its own come-on-over page with promises of $6,000 incentives for BRAC people.

And as you can imagine, real estate agents, builders and real estate investors in other spots -- like Cecil County and Lancaster, Pa. -- are sticking "BRAC" oh-so-hopefully in their websites.

Where do you think most of the relocating workers will end up living? Where are you looking, if you're a BRAC person?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: BRAC

January 15, 2009

Good news, bad news (gov't job edition)

First the good news, for anyone in favor of jobs and housing activity: The much-anticipated movement of government workers and contractors to the area (thanks to the national base realignment and closure) is underway, at least in a small way. Mary Gail Hare reports:
Fort Monmouth in New Jersey is closing and transferring many of its jobs to Aberdeen Proving Ground. About 300 New Jersey families have relocated to Maryland in the past six months. ... More than 700 are expected this year, with the largest move set for 2010, a year ahead of the required September 2011 BRAC completion date.

Bad news: Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to deal with budget problems by laying off 500 to 1,000 people. Job cuts -- government or otherwise -- mean fewer people able to buy new homes, and potentially more people in danger of missing mortgage payments on the homes they have.

See other good or bad housing-related news out there? Chime in.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: BRAC

April 25, 2008

State of Md. opens center -- in New Jersey

Hoping the housing market will revive when relocating government workers and contractors move in to the region as part of the base realignment and closure process? Then you'll be interested to hear that the state is having a grand opening today for its newest one-stop career center -- this one located at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. That's one of the bases slated to send personnel here.

Not surprisingly, this is the state's first out-of-state center.

From the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's press release:

The center will be staffed by professionals to serve New Jersey families moving from Fort Monmouth to Maryland. Resources available at the center include job search and training information, tools for professionals who will need to be registered or licensed to work in Maryland, community and housing resources, and a host of other resources to help prepare for the move.

It's an open question how many people will actually make that move. The Army addresses the issue in a BRAC Q&A:

How many Monmouth civilians are expected to refuse to move to Aberdeen? Has Fort Monmouth done any surveys that indicate what employees are thinking?

... [I]t is much too early to estimate with any accuracy how many employees may or may not go to Aberdeen. We did recently survey our workforce, however, and about 30% of our employees indicated they were likely to relocate to Aberdeen. However, this is at best a very preliminary estimate. What we can say is that based on the high number of personnel eligible for retirement in our workforce, we expect a lot of our employees to retire between now and the movement date, which will of course reduce the percentage of our current workforce who would relocate.

Of course, someone will have to fill those Aberdeen Proving Ground jobs. One assumes they'll either have to move here from somewhere (if not Fort Monmouth) or they're already living here now. And if they're already here now and aren't unemployed, they'll leave vacancies at their current jobs that will have to be filled, potentially by people from out of town ...

Oh the dominos.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 3:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BRAC

December 11, 2007

Don't count BRAC until it's hatched?

Tim Wheeler reports today that a big piece of the planned jobs gain for Maryland as part of the base realignment and closure process -- which real estate professionals and home sellers are looking forward to very eagerly -- is under fire:
One of Maryland's largest military base expansions is slated to come under congressional scrutiny this week, as civilian employees at Fort Monmouth press their fight to spare the 90-year-old base in New Jersey and keep its high-tech defense jobs from moving to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County.

The House Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing tomorrow to review the 2005 congressional decision to close 22 military installations nationwide, including Fort Monmouth, while expanding others, including Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County.

Maryland officials say they believe they will prevail.

Wheeler notes that "Fort Monmouth's work force makes up more than half of the 9,400 defense jobs and embedded contractors being transferred to Aberdeen, and nearly a third of the direct military job gains projected statewide."

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BRAC

November 20, 2007

Targeting BRAC growth

Tim Wheeler reports today that state and local officials are drafting a plan for dealing with the planned influx of jobs and people connected with Base Realignment and Closure: "steer at least some of the expected business and residential growth into Baltimore City and other communities near the expanding bases, particularly Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade."
One of the more notable proposals calls for creation of so-called "BRAC zones," where tax credits or other incentives might encourage base-related business and residential growth in areas served by public transit and in need of revitalization.

Price tag: No one knows, Wheeler reports.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:48 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BRAC

October 29, 2007

Everything you wanted to know about BRAC

Well -- a quick summary of key points, at least. You can find it in Q&A form on The Sun's site. Here's a taste of the answer to a question about tax impacts from BRAC, the base realignment and closure process expected to send thousands of jobs here in the next several years:
Of course, a complicating factor in all this is the huge uncertainty over where people will settle when the jobs relocate here. Some may choose to commute long-distance or work via telecommuting for a while, easing the strain on gridlocked highways and crowded classrooms. Where the newcomers end up buying or renting homes ultimately depends on the cost and availability of housing, the quality of schools, job opportunities for other household members and other factors.

Tim Wheeler, who's been answering the questions, will take more as they come in. You can email

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 2:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BRAC
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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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