CHANGES ARE HAPPENING
In response to recent reports of substandard living conditions in privatized housing and barracks across the military, Army senior leaders are listening and are taking action toward change.
U.S. Army Installation Management Command Commanding General Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Becker and IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Melissa A. Judkins visited Fort Gordon Feb. 21 to meet with Garrison leadership, Fort Gordon residents, and privatized housing staff that manage on-base housing.
Their visit included two roundtables where several dozen housing and barracks residents were asked to share their experiences and concerns regarding their housing. Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Jim Clifford Garrison and Command Sgt. Maj. Charlie Bryant Jr. joined Becker and Judkins as part of the panel. Housing Services Office and Directorate of Public Works staff were also present.
More than 87,000 of the Army’s homes were privatized under the Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) program in 1996, after Congress passed the Military Housing Privatization Initiative Authorities to address the $8 billion backlog in maintenance and repair challenges.
Becker opened the forum saying he wanted to hear specific issues tenants are having with their living conditions. As a privatized housing tenant himself and leader who has worked with RCI, Becker said he was aware of some issues, but the scope of the problem did not begin to surface until issues were formally brought forward during a family readiness forum held last October.
Following that forum, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey, and Becker visited some of the single-family homes at nearby Fort Meade, Maryland.
“A number of family members came forward, and we realized we have a bigger problem than what we knew about,” Becker explained. “It all came to a head at a congressional testimony when Congress asked the privatized partners to come in and testify on why we have Service members living in substandard housing – why they’re not living up to their commitment to providing quality housing to our Service members and their families.”