Air Force Global Housing Symposium aims to correct housing issues
By Zoe Schlott, AFIMSC Public Affairs
/ Published May 07, 2019
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
“Families First” is the mantra behind the Air Force’s Housing Privatization program improvement plan which is taking front and center attention at the Air Force’s Global Housing Symposium, which kicked off May 7, in downtown San Antonio.
The plan, which includes five major lines of effort, outlines 27 initiatives to correct housing issues identified following a servicewide review of health and safety concerns.
Col. Michael Beach, Air Force Housing Program chief, said ensuring Airmen and their families live in safe, quality homes is not a fire-and-forget mission.
“Our most important resource is our people,” he said. “We’ve listened to residents, reviewed survey feedback and have taken a top-to-bottom look at our processes, policies and procedures to identify what’s broken, and fix it.”
Beach is taking that same message to the Global Housing Symposium. There Air Force housing management staff and base civil engineers from across the Air Force are gathering alongside project owners to discuss the current, worldwide status of Air Force housing under one roof.
Commencing with a keynote speech from Hon. John Henderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy, the symposium is slated to update, train and inform attendees on topics that keep them up to date and able to serve the Airmen of their installations with the highest service level possible.
The agenda boasts experts speaking on “everything you wanted to know about mold,” and panel discussions where attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the program leaders concerning policy changes, roles and responsibilities and manpower. Included in the agenda is a daylong project owners’ meeting where Air Force leadership and the project owners will discuss the best course of action moving forward for the privatized housing program, with Airmen and their families’ health and safety at the center of the conversation.
The symposium is a biennial event organized by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center to bring Air Force housing professionals together to improve housing services for Airmen and their families. This year’s event is an opportunity for program leaders to discuss “Families First” and address some of the health and safety concerns they’re working to overcome.
“The Air Force is committed to restoring trust in the privatized housing program and providing military families safe, quality and well-maintained base housing,” Beach said.
The Air Force began to utilize housing privatization in 1996 as a quick and effective vehicle for transforming the base housing inventory and improving the quality of life for Airmen and their families.
Over the past two decades, the housing privatization program aimed to eliminate inadequate housing and expand services for residents, such as community centers and updated shared facilities.
While the program has successfully improved the inventory of homes and community amenities overall, the Air Force is aware that new challenges will continue to surface and is working closely with the project owners to shift the focus to address resident concerns and improve the customer experience.
In response to Airmen families’ concerns and to ensure the long-term success of the privatized housing portfolio, the Air Force Privatized Housing program developed five major lines of effort to provide safe and healthy housing for Airmen and their families: employing and revamping resident empowerment, oversight improvement, leadership engagement, improved oversight and policy standardization.
The five major lines of effort are in response to the 100 percent “boots on the ground” health and safety resident survey conducted by wing leadership in February 2019 to fully gauge resident concerns and housing conditions.
Initial data gathering efforts included a health and safety review involving 57,453 active duty members living on base. Base leadership visited 9,861 homes as a major part of an extensive review of policies, procedures and best practices.
The Air Force’s campaign to improve privatized housing is already underway. A 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, toll-free helpline for residents to call about their privatized housing concerns, went live on May 1 and can be reached at 1-800-482-6431. A few of the 27 “Families First” initiatives include: a Resident Bill of Rights to inform the lessee of their rights under a lease agreement, a more transparent work order process and a revised performance incentive fee plan.
The Air Force is using every tool at its disposal to ensure that the housing program, both state-side and abroad, puts its best foot forward this year and the years to come with the one key phrase in mind, “Families First.”
For more information on the Military Privatize Housing Program, please visit: www.afcec.af.mil/What-We-Do/Housing