By Amber Martin | Garrison Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Since Fort Carson’s February housing town hall, leadership has been working hard to find solutions to solve Soldiers’ and Family members’ housing issues and concerns.
Col. Brian K. Wortinger, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, provided a housing update June 6 at a housing unit on post to share exactly what leadership, Balfour Beatty and the Fort Carson Family Housing Office has done and the way forward.
“From me and all of our Army leadership we take the mission of providing quality, safe Family housing extremely important,” Wortinger said.
Specific needs that have been addressed include life, health and safety concerns and following up on work orders. The Fort Carson Family Housing Office now follows up on 100 percent of life, health and safety work orders; 100 percent of all home turnovers to ensure they are move-in ready; and 5 percent of every work order that is completed to ensure those work orders are being concluded properly.
In addition, the Directorate of Public Works Family Housing Office has increased staffing from six to 10 personnel to help conduct all of the follow ups.
Balfour Beatty has also created solutions to addressing communication challenges and meeting residents’ needs. They have increased staffing by hiring approximately 20 percent additional subcontractors, two resident engagement specialists, two quality control supervisors and one communication specialist.
“Are we perfect? Absolutely not. Are we trying awfully hard? Yes, we are,” Wortinger said.
In the last month, resident satisfaction surveys show that from April to May, resident satisfaction has gone up about 7 percent. Residents are being heard and Fort Carson leadership is implementing specific changes to address those concerns.
“To give you an idea of that challenge, since we started keeping track in mid-February, we’ve completed 10,995 work orders (as of June 5),” Wortinger said. “Roughly 253 of those (work orders) (were) emergency orders.”
Staff Sgt. Scott Evans, public affairs specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, and his Family experienced housing issues in mid-March. The floor started buckling at the back door which led to moisture and mold building up in the dining and living area.
While Balfour Beatty management addressed the issue quickly and had a subcontractor come out within a week after the initial assessment, the Evans family did not feel safe in their home. Balfour Beatty temporarily moved them to a fully furnished home on post. However, communication broke down during this timeframe and they experienced delays and incomplete work by the subcontractors.
The Evans Family was invited to the second town hall in April where they spoke about their frustrations.
“Literally less than 24-hours (after the town hall) I had basically an offer letter from housing saying — here is the home that we have — and it will be ready by May,” said Sirenna Evans, wife of Scott Evans.
The Evans Family feels much safer in their new home. Scott Evans said even though it was a frustrating experience his leadership looked out for him along the way ensuring his Family ended up in a new home.
“The garrison as a whole is working to make the improvements in terms of communication (by listening) to the concerns of residents,” Scott Evans said. “It may not be a complete 180 (in one year) but it will be significantly better.”
Another Fort Carson resident, Master Sgt. Melinda Thai, senior intelligence sergeant, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, had an issue with her home in early March. It was a process to get her issue resolved and she was frustrated. It was a matter of getting the right subcontractor who had experience to get the problem fixed, she said.
“I definitely saw a difference from when I first reported my problem to when it was finally resolved (in May),” Thai said. “The communication improved drastically. I think communication is key.”
While Thai did not want to go to her boss for help to resolve her issue, she said she thinks it’s important that Soldiers lean on their leadership for assistance when they need to.
Part of addressing residents’ concerns is leadership involvement to identify and address problems including common area issues and issues between tenants. If Soldiers and their Family members are not finding resolution through their local community partner Balfour Beatty, the Fort Carson Family Housing Office or their leadership — the garrison commander said there are other outlets.
“If a resident is still not satisfied … (they can go) on our website and (hit) the ask the garrison commander button or the CG hotline button, where they can communicate — essentially directly with me and directly with our senior commander — to get resolution for any issues they may have,” Wortinger said.