HUNTSVILLE, Alabama –
Three major actions must happen to course correct the state of Army housing, said the four-star general officer responsible for Installation Management during a forum with the presidents of the Residential Community Initiative companies April 26.
During an RCI CEO roundtable at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, to address widespread reports of deficient housing conditions, Army Materiel Command Commander Gen. Gus Perna told the seven executives responsible for privatized housing across the Army to maintain focus on Soldiers and families through the phases.
"The bottom line is that we must win back the trust of our residents," Perna said. "It is about action, not words."
First, the current focus and response to the issues must continue, including timely completion of work orders, proper quality control measures to ensure standards are met, quarterly town halls to keep residents informed and additional oversight and involvement by Garrison Commanders, Perna said.
"The metric is not about quantity – how many work orders are completed or how much we have done," he said. "It is about quality and our response to the very real and serious issues being reported. Our Soldiers and families need to know we are taking care of them."
Second, the Army and the partners must improve communication and rebuild confidence with Soldiers and families. Educating residents on the resources available to them is critical, Perna said.
In addition to Army hotlines established at each installation to report housing issues, each RCI partner has developed a mobile app intended to improve communication flow. Training for Army leaders who manage installations is also now a requirement.
"Previously, many Garrison Commanders didn't see RCI oversight as one of their key responsibilities," said Lt. Gen. Brad Becker, commander of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command.
IMCOM has since instituted a 90-minute block of training for all incoming garrison commanders, and rolled out training for all current garrison commanders, focused on their housing responsibilities, Becker said.
IMCOM is also focused on educating residents about the resources available to them within the Army Housing Offices on each installation, Becker said, which many families don't realize are unaffiliated with the RCI Housing Offices. Army Housing Offices exist to support all military families, and can be advocates or support to those who are having issues in their homes.
Third, long-term planning to prevent a reoccurrence and maintain momentum is critical, Perna said. To this end, discussion topics ranged from 5-year development plans to improvements in the move-in and move-out process ahead of the summer surge.
A common theme across the table was that success will require a strong partnership between the Army and RCI leaders.
"Both of us need to be held accountable to our roles and responsibilities," Perna said.
The forum was the first in what will become a regular meeting between Perna and the housing partner executives.