Base running out of room in 801 housing

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

If anyone asks “What’s the 801?,” it doesn’t have anything to do with an area code or an information service via telephone.

For more than 250 families in the Clovis and Portales area, the number represents housing Cannon personnel have access to in the neighboring communities.

It’s a chance to live in a neighborhood full of military families, but away from the base itself.

But the numbers are starting to run low for that kind of accommodation.

“It is currently projected that the 801 housing areas in Clovis and Portales will reach 100 percent occupancy by March 2010,” said Tim Farmer, chief of the Capital Asset Management Flight at Cannon.

In Clovis, the housing designated as an 801 area is on the northeast side of town near Mesa Elementary. For those seeking a house in that part of Clovis, out of 200 total homes, 43 are currently available.

Portales has more units available and a higher ratio of vacant homes. The 801 housing for Portales is located on the south side of town — near football, soccer and baseball fields of Eastern New Mexico University.

Out of 150 houses in Portales, 51 are still available.

Getting into 801 housing, for Cannon personnel, means going through the base’s housing office rather than dealing with a local real estate agent.

Most Clovis and Portales Realtors, however, have military clients weighing their options: Whether to apply for an 801 home at less expense or find a house in the regular market.

“They need some updating and what-not. When they were built, they were built so quickly that the siding and shingling blows off them real easily,” said Realtor Rebecca Lusk of Re/Max in Clovis, giving her opinion of the 801 offerings.

“We have some that are torn about whether to go with the base housing or whether to purchase,” Lusk said. “A lot of that depends on whether they have a house in another market that they have to sell first.

“Many that we have coming from Florida still have a home there; that’s a lot of who I personally see going into base housing.”