JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Improving the Air Force privatized housing program to meet the needs of Airmen and their families was the central focus of a three-day Global Housing Symposium in San Antonio, May 7-9.
With recent spotlights focused on military privatized housing, the symposium was an ideal venue for project owners, Air Force leadership and installation housing management offices from across the enterprise to come together as a team to discuss the most important topic at hand, Airmen and their families.
“To ensure the success of this program, it is essential for the Air Force and its partners to leave this gathering not just with lessons learned, but in alignment with a plan moving forward,” said Robert Moriarty, who leads the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Installations Directorate. As a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, AFCEC manages the Air Force’s housing program.
In a keynote speech, John Henderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy, said residents of privatized housing had raised concerns about housing issues, and it is the Air Force’s responsibility to take corrective measures and keep residents informed about those efforts.
“Our actions determine if we deserve the trust of the Airmen and their families, of the people we serve,” said Henderson. “We owe it to the Airmen and their families to have these debates.”
Henderson urged attendees to come together as a team, ask questions, find answers, and learn from one another as they return to their installations ready to take informed actions.
An Air Force leadership panel fielded questions from attendees ranging from natural disaster response plans to the future role of detachments and overseas construction. Henderson and Moriarty were joined on the panel by Carol Ann Beda, acting deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations; Jeffery Luster, deputy general counsel for installations, energy and environment at the Office of the Air Force General Counsel; Brig. Gen. John Allen, Air Force director of civil engineers, and deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection; and AFIMSC Vice Commander Col. Patrick Miller.
The gathering addressed the health of the fleet, the anticipated Tenant Bill of Rights, work order process improvement plans, and other issues that came out of a February 2019 health and safety review of privatized Air Force housing. During the review, installation officials worked with project owners to identify various housing issues, resulting in roughly 4,700 work orders. Focusing improvement efforts on communication and oversight practices, AFCEC helped reduce open work orders to 1,200 in less than three months.
In 2019, the Air Force will send housing residents a draft Tenant Bill of Rights for comments and review. The bill addresses topics on proactive support from the chain of command, professional management services, responsive communications, prompt and professional repairs with a way to track and monitor progress, the right to raise issues without fear of reprisal, and a defined dispute resolution process.
The Air Force is also strengthening housing management offices with additional staffing and improved oversight processes. In the next year, the Air Force will continue to foster open dialogue with its project owners through meetings and data calls.