2019-04-12 / Front Page

PROGRESS BEING MADE

Housing is not a ‘one and done’ deal
Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Dana Wardell, LifeWorks coordinator/leasing specialist, top left, and Jossie Noguera, top right, operational analyst for Balfour Beatty Communities’ regional office in Atlanta, listen to a Fort Gordon resident following a town hall held at Fort Gordon on April 4. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Dana Wardell, LifeWorks coordinator/leasing specialist, top left, and Jossie Noguera, top right, operational analyst for Balfour Beatty Communities’ regional office in Atlanta, listen to a Fort Gordon resident following a town hall held at Fort Gordon on April 4. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Fort Gordon leadership hosted a town hall April 4 in Alexander Hall. The event was a follow-up to a town hall held Feb. 28, at which time residents were encouraged to voice issues with privatized housing and barracks.

Regularly scheduled town halls have become part of an ongoing Army-wide effort to provide information, receive residents’ feedback, and resolve issues in housing and barracks.

The most recent event focused on privatized housing and was hosted by Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general. He was joined by Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Jim Clifford and several Balfour Beatty Communities (BBC) staff including Paula Cook, BBC vice president; Billy Lawson, BBC regional property manager; James Harper, project director; and Russ Downing, BBC acting community manager at Fort Gordon.

Clifford opened with an overview of housing concerns that were discussed during the previous town hall. Electrical complications, mold, gas leaks, incomplete work orders, polluted air ducts, unsatisfactory craftsmanship, and lack of preventative maintenance among others were on the list.

Clifford previously told residents that the command’s priority was (and remains) issues related to “life, health, and safety,” adding that leadership would conduct weekly meetings, pull emergency work orders, and follow up with residents. The commander kept his word.

Since the initial town hall, Fort Gordon command achieved 100 percent contact with each of Fort Gordon’s 1,080 homes – a directive that was set by Department of the Army to identify issues and better assist residents. Furthermore, the number of open work orders decreased from 2,814 to 406. And each day, that number decreases.

Clifford expressed appreciation to unit leadership for assistance with making contact, and to residents for allowing them into their homes.

“You really helped capture some of the issues that we saw, allowed us to build some trend data and get out what we think are the strategic items we have to address over the next several months,” Clifford said.

Cook briefed residents on improvements they can expect to see as a result of concerns they expressed.

“We heard you loud and clear … We’re making sure we’re getting anything that’s of concern to our residents,” Cook said.

Increased staffing is one of the main changes Fort Gordon will see. The Department of the Army (DA) has authorized two additional staff for the Housing Services Office, and BBC is interviewing for a residential engagement specialist.

Other changes include more frequent air duct cleanings, electrical panel replacements in legacy homes, gas line inspections, lightbulb adapters, increased self-help inventory, and more.

There is also a new app residents can download that will enable them to create and close out work orders, request follow-ups, leave feedback, and track work order history.

“That’s going to be very beneficial to all of us,” Cook said.

The app is still in the pilot phase, but is expected to go live by the end of this month.

Following remarks, residents were invited to ask questions and voice concerns in person or via Facebook Live broadcast.

Morrison reminded residents that progress takes time and reiterated the process for reporting issues.

“This is all about making sure that we have awareness across the board, and quite frankly, it’s improving, but it’s still not where it needs to be,” Morrison said.

Residents should first contact BBC for housing-related issues. If an issue is not resolved to satisfaction, they should then contact the HSO and/ or their chain of command.

“If we’re not aware, it’s hard for us to hold the right accountability in place,” Morrison said.

The next town hall will be April 25, 6 p.m., in Alexander Hall, for Servicemembers who live in barracks.

Another town hall focusing on privatized housing will be announced at a later date.

“We’ll continue to have these forums giving you an opportunity to address issues that you may have … and also to keep you informed as a resident about the changes that are coming on,” Clifford said.

You can contact the HSO at 706-791-9658.

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