By Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson leaders asked housing residents for their feedback about on-post housing conditions during a town hall Feb. 21, 2019, and residents obliged by bringing up issues that were common across the housing areas.
During a more than two-hour session at the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center, residents cited concerns of mold and rodents in housing units, utility billing and customer service provided by Balfour Beatty Communities, the post’s housing area management company.
Balfour Beatty Communities (BBC) Fort Carson officials Steve McIntire and Christy McGrath apologized for the issues and said they were working to improve service. BBC also had 12 representatives on hand to address immediate concerns, taking in 45 service requests. As of Feb. 26, 19 had been completed and the other 26 were scheduled for service.
Fort Carson leaders conducted the town hall after Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper stated that Army leaders were deeply troubled by reports of deficient conditions in some Family housing areas at other Army installations around the globe.
“It is unacceptable for our Families, who sacrifice so much to have to endure these hardships in their own homes,” Esper said. “Our most sacred obligation as Army leaders is to take care of our own people — our Soldiers and Family members.”
Upon learning of poor housing conditions at other installations, he ordered the Department of the Army inspector general to investigate the problems at posts throughout the Army.
“We asked for feedback from housing residents and we’re thankful for it, but we were shocked to learn the details,” said Command Sgt. Maj. T.J. Holland, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, command sergeant major. “Our Soldiers and Families have a right to live in a safe environment. We have over 3,000 housing units on Fort Carson, and we have to be good partners with the garrison command team and Balfour Beatty Communities. We have to instill trust among residents again, not only to fix these issues but to make sure we follow up in a meaningful way.”
Others said they believed their problems with BBC service might have been isolated incidents, but that their frustration grew at the town hall when they learned their experiences were not isolated incidents. Some questioned whether they would receive refunds on their utility bills while being forced to turn up thermostats due to faulty door and window seals.Housing residents also questioned the company’s policies and priority system for handling maintenance requests, and BBC representatives explained the process and listed examples of what types of repairs fell into the priority levels: routine, urgent and emergency.
While BBC endured the brunt of residents’ complaints, Fort Carson’s Directorate of Public Works also heard grievances from Soldiers who reside in Army barracks on post. The barracks residents complained of overly wide gaps in barracks-door closures and a lack of working washing machines and clothes dryers.
“We thank everyone for their comments tonight,” said Brig. Gen. William L. Thigpen, acting senior commander, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson. “These are extremely helpful for your senior leadership as well as your chain of command. “We hear you and we’re not going to make excuses. We’re committed as an Army to making changes, to addressing these issues and fixing these challenges.”
Fort Carson Family Homes has also issued guidance on a three-step process for Soldiers and Families who have a suggestion, concern or complaint.
Step one: Identify the issue and contact the Fort Carson Family Homes Management Office at 719-579-1606, Maintenance Office at 719-579-1605 or at http://www.fortcarsonfamilyhomes.com/.
Step two: If service is incomplete or customer is not satisfied, contact Balfour Beatty Communities’ BB Cares Helpline at 877-253-6988.
Step three: If issue is unresolved contact Army Resident Communities Initiative Fort Carson at 719-526-4388 or email Jeremiah.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If concerns are still not addressed, residents can visit the Fort Carson website at https://carson.army.mil and click on the “Ask the GC” button to send it to the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson commander, or the “CG hotline” button to send it to the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson commanding general.
Housing assessments set for next week
As part of an ongoing Armywide effort to resolve unsatisfactory conditions in Army family housing, Fort Carson leadership will conduct housing unit assessments March 4-8. The assessment teams will focus on life, health and safety issues.
Assessments are scheduled for all post housing villages. The schedule follows:
- March 4, 1-4 p.m. — Choctaw and Arapahoe
- March 5, 9 a.m. to noon — Pawnee, Shoshoni and Sioux
- March 5, 1:30-4 p.m. — Apache, Comanche and Cherokee
- March 6, 9 a.m. to noon — Chippewa, Iroquois and Blackfoot
- March 6, 1:30-4 p.m. — Dakota, Cheyenne and Ute Hill
- March 7, 9 a.m. to noon — Kiowa and Navajo
- March 7-8, 1:30-4 p.m. — Makeup assessments