Sen. Jim Inhofe and acting Secretary of the Air Force, Matthew Donovan, made a visit to Tinker Air Force Base on Oct. 1 to get a first-hand look at base housing problems.
Base leadership, the Air Force Civil Engineering Center and Balfour Beatty Communities have been working through these issues at Tinker AFB as the Air Force as a whole works to provide safe, quality housing to families.
The visit comes after recent reports of unregulated maintenance on floors containing asbestos and the discovery of 77 homes violating fire codes.
Inhofe toured housing with members of Tinker leadership and has given BBC 90 days to enact a plan for significant changes for their privatized housing on Tinker AFB.
“Privatized housing, it’s a good idea and when that first happened I thought things were going to work. We looked at contracts, we looked at what kind of segregated problems could come up from it, not realizing that it was caving in on us,” Inhofe said. “This is not an indictment on privatized housing. I think that can work and work successfully and we’re doing it in other parts of the government.”
Part of the initial correction plan has included bi-monthly town hall meetings to discuss base housing. Another town hall was held by base leadership and BBC management on Oct. 3 in the Tinker Auditorium to provide base residents an update on the improvements being made regarding these issues.
“It’s going to take all of us to get to a 90-day commitment timeline because the residents have to continue to demand what they need to demand, to keep their families safe. They need to communicate that effectively to BBC,” Col. Paul Filcek, commander of the 72nd Air Base Wing, said. “We have not seen enough significant progress from BBC. BBC will admit that, but let’s not confuse that with lack of engagement and effort on behalf of local BBC.”
Since the last housing update during a town hall in July, 292 duplex homes were inspected for deficiencies in the houses’ common walls and 77 are currently under construction to fix these issues with an expected completion date sometime in the beginning of December.
Most recently, 20 homes in the McNarney Manor neighborhood were discovered to have had latent asbestos disturbed without notifying residents and without protective precautions. All 20 homes were tested and cleaned within 7 days, and all tests returned negative for asbestos.
“They need to seize the opportunity to right the ship,” Filcek said. “I have to tell you that if we do not correct this in the next 90 days alongside BBC, it will mean families have continued to suffer that much longer. Our goal is a solution that fixes it for families.”
BBC leadership also participated in the housing events this week, and describe recent updates including a $1.1 million asphalt, sidewalk and gutter repair project that is 75% complete, LED light conversion throughout the community which is 85% complete, a $2.5 million improvement project for McNarney Manor which will include roof replacements, exterior painting, HVAC updates and siding replacement that is 65% complete and tree removal and replacement throughout the community which is 50% complete.
Filcek strongly emphasized the need for all families to enroll in the Resident Portal to ensure all work orders are in the system, stressing the importance of communicating all maintenance requests and housing issues with BBC immediately. He provided residents with other outlets in which to express concerns or complaints including a recently founded Commander’s Resident Council. The council, comprised of 12 resident volunteers, meets with Filcek monthly or as needed in order to bring their concerns to the forefront.
Military housing residents are also encouraged to view the BBC Resident Bill of Rights at tinkerafbhomes.com. The bill includes resident rights from well-maintained and comfortable homes to convenient methods of communication with BBC.
If any residents experience health and safety issues in base housing they should contact BBC’s local management or maintenance team without delay and should keep all records of communications regarding the issues. Residents can also reach out to their chain of command. An additional option is to contact the Military Housing Office and file a claim. If there is still no resolution after contacting MHO, residents should contact the USAF Housing Call Center at 1-800-482-6431.