AHFHAca,!E+is building community in Hawaii
August 26, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Building a strong sense of community is just as important at Army Hawaii Family Housing as building quality new homes.
AHFH believes it is vital to create communities that address the needs of families, so it engages residents and provides opportunities for them to share ideas for improving the community and potentially assist in issue-resolutions.
In 2009, a Resident Advisory Board was formed in partnership with the Army to give residents an opportunity to take ownership of their community.
AHFH wants to hear directly from residents and has a formal organization that is comprised, in part, of residents. This organization helps AHFH ensure it is taking the appropriate actions that will benefit the community as a whole and meet the needs of families. The desired outcome is to build community among AHFH residents and provide an exceptional living experience for service members and their families.
With support from resident volunteers, who serve as board members alongside representatives from AHFH and U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, the Resident Advisory Board has led the way to successful improvements during the past year.
Many accomplishments began with recommendations from the board, including the following:
Aca,!AcExterior painting of 28 buildings in the Patriot-Hamilton community,
Aca,!AcModifying the recycling schedule to support the needs of the community, and
Aca,!AcWorking with the Directorate of Emergency Services to resolve parking issues and increase officer patrols.
Other board projects currently underway include the addition of more crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety in AHFH communities, where traffic is a concern, and major repairs to sidewalks in the Helemano community.
When the Resident Advisory Board was first established, one committee was formed in the north to represent Helemano, Schofield and Wheeler communities; a second committee was formed in the south to represent families in Aliamanu, Fort Shafter, Red Hill and Tripler communities.
Although these boards have proven beneficial to AHFH communities, the team realized the need for more community-based advisory boards that can better address specific needs and identify opportunities in individual neighborhoods.
"Our team understands that families in Patriot-Hamilton have different concerns from families who live in Kalakaua or Wheeler communities," said Tom Adams, AHFH director of property management. "By bringing residents who live in the same neighborhood together to share common concerns, we can make more meaningful changes in a more efficient and timely manner."
AHFH is currently seeking residents to volunteer as community-based board members. Information on the volunteer committee will be communicated to residents within the next few weeks. Volunteers will serve as a conduit for other residents to voice their ideas and concerns, and to provide recommendations to AHFH leadership on addressing, responding to and resolving community issues.
Residents interested in participating are encouraged to contact their community manager.
"Some great things have come about as a result of these boards, and we look forward to working with more of our residents to identify opportunities to improve their neighborhoods," Adams said.
<b>Meet Your Neighbor</b>
The idea behind Army Hawaii Family Housing's new "Meet Your Neighbor" program, launched this month, is keeping resident communication as a top priority among community staff.
Staff will walk their communities and reach out to every resident at least one time, each quarter.
Meet Your Neighbor is an aggressive program to reach the more than 6,500 families who live at AHFH, but the team is committed to meet the goal.
"With e-mail, Facebook and other social media outlets, it's easy to forget the value of face-to-face meetings," said Tom Adams, AHFH director of property management. "By getting our team out in the community and speaking with residents, we can better address community improvements."
AHFH staff will be knocking on doors to see how residents are doing and soliciting feedback on property and maintenance services. Residents will be asked to share their ideas on how AHFH can enhance its communities, such as how it can make a current process more efficient or what event or program could be offered that families would be interested in attending.
Adams also encourages residents to be on the lookout for staff walking their neighborhoods.
"You don't have to wait for someone to knock on your door," he said. "If you see someone out there and have an idea you want to discuss, flag them down. Our goal is to provide excellent property and community services, and receiving feedback from our families is (one of) the best ways we can accomplish it."
<b>Housing partnership means quality</b>
More than 60 percent of Army Hawaii Family Housing families are living in new or renovated homes, which shows that the Army's vision to build quality, affordable homes for Soldiers and their families is quickly coming to fruition.
"With the daily sacrifices that our Soldiers and families make, it's important for the Army to take care of them," said Col. Douglas Mulbury, garrison commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. "Our goal is to ensure a high quality of life for our Soldiers and their families, and partnering with private-sector developers allows us to accomplish our goals more quickly."
In 2004, the Army partnered with developer Actus Lend Lease to form the AHFH partnership that is responsible for residential development, construction and renovation, as well as asset, property and maintenance management through 2054.
The partnership's 10-year development plan is in its fifth year and includes construction of 5,288 new homes, renovation of 2,506, and construction of seven new community centers and dozens of recreational amenities.
The Army's Residential Communities Initiative program is helping the partnership achieve its goals.
The RCI team in Hawaii collaborates in partnership activities and routinely monitors point of services surveys, which are conducted by a third party customer satisfaction service. AHFH consistently ranks "excellent" in this category, and also ranks "outstanding" in quality and timeliness of responses for service orders and routine repairs.
Crucial to the partnership's success is a shared vision, which is to do what is right for Soldiers and their families.
"By putting our Soldiers and families at the forefront of every decision made, whether it's the layout of a home, the placement of a playground or a service to support residents, we can be confident we are doing right by them," Mulbury said.