Fort Lee’s fourth quarterly Housing Town Hall drew more than 40 people to Memorial Chapel Nov. 14, where installation leaders reiterated the importance of using work orders to let Hunt Military Communities know about maintenance and area improvement needs. Equally essential, they said, is following up on requests if they are not resolved in a timely manner or to the resident’s satisfaction.
The town hall also was streamed live via Facebook, allowing community members to participate from home, work or elsewhere. The video and a link to the slides from the meeting can be found on the Fort Lee Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ArmyFortLee.
“The bottom line is that it’s our job as leaders to take care of Soldiers and their families,” emphasized Col. Hollie J. Martin, Fort Lee garrison commander in her opening remarks. “That is our No. 1 priority. That’s why we’re here tonight,”
The top issues on Martin’s agenda were four due-outs from the August meeting, assigned by Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, who also attended that evening’s session.
The first item was fire extinguishers for residents. She explained that housing occupants are responsible for purchasing their own extinguishers. She noted that some insurance companies might purchase such equipment for them.
A mold remediation communications plan was the next due-out Martin mentioned. She said garrison and Hunt worked through a number of issues together, and the housing partner now has an approved plan and is distributing information to residents.
The routine work order backlog was the third due-out addressed. Martin said they had about 150 remaining requests pending as of that evening and made note of the “great assistance” from Hunt, which brought additional maintenance employees from all over the country to help knock out the work orders.
The last due-out concerned the redeployment of the Rent Café app, and it included a pointed message for all residents. The app should be the tool of choice for submitting routine work orders, she emphasized, as it provides the most expedient results and allows residents, Hunt and the garrison to track them.
Fogg also underscored the importance of using the app.
“We want everyone to use it because it’s a better way to get your work orders done. That’s where we’re going to,” he said. “So, we’re giving everyone a warning order here; we’re going to fully utilize this app to place work orders and track them.”
Martin continued to her next agenda item – the second housing survey now being conducted. She explained that commanders and Hunt Housing weren’t getting the feedback from residents they needed for actionable items, and with the turnover in military communities during the year, the Army answered the call to do the assessment twice a year.
“The biggest takeaway in regard to the surveys is that we need your feedback,” Martin said. “It’s our best tool for seeing where the trends are and where our problems areas are across the board.
Martin highlighted other actions well underway, such as:
- Cleaning and assessing duct work in homes with remediation as needed.
- Annual customer satisfaction surveys developed specifically for residents.
- Garrison commander and Directorate of Public Works weekly work order reviews.
- Army MEDCOM establishing the Housing Environmental Health Response Registry.
- Continued efforts to reduce the backlog of routine work orders.
- Establishment of the installation’s Housing Hot Line, 804-734-6300.
Martin introduced Command Sgt. Maj. James House, garrison CSM, to talk about the upcoming mandatory, semi-annual assessment of all housing – Army-owned, privatized and barracks. He said these reviews help commanders at all levels identify immediate life, health and safety concerns and allow for immediate remediation or mitigation to ensure the health and safety of Soldiers and family members. Housing residents will be sent an invitation to participate soon.
Eric Skeeter, Hunt’s senior director of operations, also spoke at the meeting. He introduced the new project coordinator, hired to oversee mold remediation and duct cleaning projects, as well as a new quality assurance specialist who will assess all contracted work orders. The company also completed 5-star customer service training for all of its employees, among other actions.
After leadership finished their slides, they opened the floor to the audience and those online. There was a small number waiting to be heard. Stacey Espinoza, a military spouse, voiced her concern about two instances in which she said Hunt gave her family notice to temporarily leave the home so repairs could be made, only to return home and find the work was not done. Espinoza said this was particularly inconvenient for her husband, since he works during the evenings and it disrupted his sleep schedule.
Skeeter responded to the comment on behalf of Hunt: “We should absolutely be trying to accommodate our residents as much as possible, and certainly showing the respect of being there when we say we're going to be there.” He then invited Espinoza to speak with him or a member of his team directly after the meeting to discuss the specific work order in more detail.
A resident attending the town hall virtually via Facebook Live asked what was being done about the “rat problem” in Harrison Villa. Martin thanked the resident for the question, explaining that while action had already been taken to locate and eliminate unwelcome rodents previously reported in that area, those living in housing are doing the right thing by reporting any signs of continuing problems.
“We did notice after the fact that no work order had been submitted regarding this report of possible continuing rodent activity,” Martin added. “While we were happy to go ahead and submit one from our end, this is definitely the sort of thing residents can and should submit work orders for, as it allows us to both address and track these issues until they are fully resolved.”
Various members of the garrison and Hunt Housing took turns answering a variety of additional questions related to customer service, communication, maintenance scheduling and more, which can still be viewed in the video on Facebook. Leaders also met with attendees after the meeting to address follow-up concerns.
The next housing town hall is scheduled for February. The time and location will be announced through command information channels.