During an Army Housing Summit Jan. 14-16, senior Army leaders and privatized company executives met at Army Materiel Command headquarters to review the status of the Army housing portfolio and develop a strategy for long-term improvements across installations.
The Army’s seven private housing companies, which have 50-year lease agreements through the Residential Communities Initiative, manage and maintain 87,000, or 98%, of Army Housing at 44 U.S. installations. The Army manages another 13,000 homes and 6,700 Soldier barracks at U.S. and overseas installations.
“We need to be able to see ourselves, to have oversight of the conditions of our current housing inventory and of our projected inventory,” said Gen. Gus Perna, from Army Materiel Command. He is the top Army officer charged by the Army chief of staff with responsibility for Army Housing.
“This is the first time (since implementation of privatized housing) that we have come together and had this holistic view across all Army installations. We need to drive this to our desired end-state,” Perna said. “This is not only about day-to-day living. It’s about what we want our installations to look like in 40 or 50 years.”
The summit brought Army leadership and RCI company executives together via satellite with installation commanders to review progress and future strategies for housing at about 60 U.S. and overseas installations. The leaders reviewed each installation and discussed current conditions of housing units; future plans for housing reinvestments; and policies, processes and practices that need to be addressed to ensure housing’s long-term viability. The summit also allowed Army leaders to identify challenges that are trending across multiple locations, like the cost of maintaining historic housing, fluctuations in Soldiers’ housing allowances and forecasting funding for preventive maintenance as housing units age.
AMC, under Perna’s direction, took the lead for Army Housing in March, when the Installation Management Command became one of AMC’s major subordinate commands. Since then, numerous reforms and improvements have been made, including: quality inspections of all housing units; establishing 24/7 housing hotlines at every installation; quarterly resident town halls hosted by installation leadership; mobile apps for residents to submit and track work orders; a revised fee structure for private companies to better account for resident and Army leadership feedback; and developing a Resident Bill of Rights, expected to be signed later this month; among other reforms.
In July, more than 25,000 residents provided input through a Resident Satisfaction Survey that gave the Army insight into housing experiences and further pinpointed issues that needed to be addressed. In addition, an Army Inspector General report yielded feedback to improve housing.
The responsibility to ensure Army Housing is safe and secure belongs to AMC, IMCOM and RCI partners, Perna said.
“I believe and have reported to the Secretary of Defense and the Army Chief of Staff that we, as a collective group, are moving in the same direction on Army Housing and we are executing their guidance, and we will achieve these goals,” Perna told the summit participants. “We are not there yet. But we are moving every day toward that end state.”
At the summit, Perna told the RCI company representatives the Army needs their intellectual knowledge, management expertise, real estate know-how and reinvestment capabilities to ensure the health of Army Housing over the long-term.
“As Soldiers, we are trained to go to war and trained to execute war. We are not trained to run or execute an Army Housing neighborhood. That’s why we brought this partnership together,” Perna said.
“Whether you are at (forts) Wainwright, Polk, Irwin, Belvoir, Hood, Riley or any other installation, the end state is for every installation to be a Soldier and family’s number one choice for where to live. When a Soldier gets orders, we want there to be jubilance because they are convinced they are moving to the best installation. That is our vision, our end state. We have to drive ourselves to this end state.”
Editor’s note: This article was edited for space. To read the complete story, visit: army.mil/article/231884/army_focuses_on_making_installations_number_one_choice_for_military_families.