FORT LEE, Va. — Fort Lee completed its Army-mandated assessment of on-post homes earlier this week, with a focus on issues that would be detrimental to the health, safety or overall well-being of military personnel and their families.
“Our military leaders and detailed evaluators made contact with residents in each occupied home on post. Of the 1,474 family quarters on Fort Lee, roughly 42 percent were inspected – the remaining housing occupants declined the opportunity,” reported Al Williams, the post Housing Division chief responsible for project oversight. “The organization teams took this very seriously, and I believe it’s because of their influence our open work order numbers jumped from 194 at the beginning of the month to 850 as of Monday morning.”
Most of those are minor issues that do not drastically affect living standards, Williams pointed out. Hunt Military Communities, the civilian firm that operates post housing here, will respond to emergency calls – i.e. HVAC outages during extreme hot or cold weather, electrical hazards, gas leaks and loss of water – within one hour. A four-hour window is allotted for urgent calls such as a clogged drain or failure of an oven/refrigerator. Routine requests should be resolved within eight business days. Most cosmetic issues – anything from small cracks in drywall to worn carpets – are typically remedied between occupants.
“There are no new surprises from the site surveys that I’m aware of,” Williams also reported. “The command saw a quick response (by the Hunt housing partners) to the major problems with mold, moisture, and water and gas leaks brought up by residents at the Feb. 27 town hall here (read more at www.fortleetraveller.com/news/local_news). We will continue to monitor anything related to those issues as they arise and influence the repair process as needed until they are resolved.”
Underscoring the expectation of greater oversight in the future, Williams said the Army directed his office to survey 5 percent of all routine work orders and 100 percent of emergency and life, health and safety calls. That means garrison representatives will call or visit homes to ensure repairs are being made to the resident’s satisfaction.
“My team is running a completed service order report every day,” Williams confirmed, “and on Tuesdays and Fridays, we’re randomly selecting the ones to be evaluated, keeping in mind the 5 percent requirement for routine repairs. Not everyone is going to hear from us unless it’s in the arena of an emergency or life, health and safety issue.”
Quality assurance checks also are required during changes in occupancy, Williams noted. A representative from both Hunt and the garrison will do a walkthrough inspection with all incoming residents.
“These steps allow us to monitor the process and ensure we are holding the housing partners accountable for the upkeep of our on-post homes,” Williams said. “We also have the commander’s hotline (804-734-6300), which has seen some activity. I won’t say it started off like we expected – we had callers going there first before using the work order system at Hunt – but that’s decreased and I’m optimistic it will serve its purpose as a conduit for identifying emergency or life, health and safety problems that aren’t being resolved in the specified timelines.”
A positive outcome of the housing discussion and examination process over the past few weeks, Williams observed, is a renewed sense of “ownership” among residents of military communities.
“They’re hopefully seeing the importance of speaking up immediately when a repair issue is noticed … they need to call that in and get the work order process started,” he said. “Don’t let it become a larger problem that takes away the enjoyment of staying in the home, and don’t dismiss it as a problem the next occupant will have to deal with. That applies to areas outside the home as well because this is about neighborhoods and taking care of fellow members of your community.”
What’s happening now to address major discrepancies in the upkeep of Army housing has to result in sustainable processes for the future, Williams also emphasized. “Don’t think this one sweep is going to fix everything and no further maintenance will be needed. We owe it to our fellow community members and those who will live here in the future to take pride in our neighborhoods and homes.”
For more information and resources related to Fort Lee housing issues, visit https://home.army.mil/lee/index.php/housing.