By Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden)August 15, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - It may not be home for good, but for thousands of Wiesbaden residents it's certainly home for now.
And because the Army family housing areas serve as places of communion, recreation and relaxation for Soldiers and families, garrison leaders are making extra efforts to ensure its upkeep by inspiring more pride among the residents.
"The housing areas draw a lot of attention from the highest ranking officers in the community on down," said Sgt. 1st Class Russell Warren, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden housing noncommissioned officer, of the good and bad attention that recent practices by various residents of the five community housing areas have stirred up among leaders.
USAG Wiesbaden is responsible for 1,767 housing units, which houses about 1,460 Soldiers plus their family members. "Stairwell" units usually house nine to 12 families in an average of 12,500 square feet per building; about 860 to 1,500 square feet per family. Given such close accommodations, a neglectful tenant's residual bad habits can quickly encroach on the neighboring families' living spaces.
Frequent complaints and concerns from housing residents and housing officials include neglecting to clean up pets' fecal waste, not returning trashcans to designated storage places, smoking and storing items -- often times hazardous materials such as charcoal and lighter fluid -- in common areas, neglecting to clean up behind one's self and children, leaving entrance doors open, and vandalism on sports field and playground areas.
"Our highest priority is the satisfaction of the customers," said Birgit Werkheiser-Engel, Directorate of Public Works Housing chief of facilities. "Wiesbaden is your home in Germany. You should feel at home in the housing areas."
Officials realize that many categories of families from very different environments and experiences live among each other in the housing areas, so consciousness of certain issues vary. Such things as child safety, security and public health are reasonable concerns when living so closely to neighbors.
"It helps us better manage resident satisfaction when our housing residents show better consideration for their neighbors, especially in shared areas … keeping common areas clean and securing entry doors," said Werkheiser-Engel.
When a Soldier signs the paperwork for quarters, he or she is agreeing to abide by the guidelines that are endorsed by the garrison commander, an O-5 or colonel. If it is reported that a Soldier is not acting in accordance with the policies, disciplinary repercussions can detrimentally impact a Soldier's career, said Warren.
"Usually, the command sergeant major requests to see the offending Soldier and several other people in that person's chain of command," said Warren, adding "he wants to know why this Soldier is ignoring a colonel's policies."
As the bad can creep in and bring spirits down, housing officials are hoping that by kicking off a new Building of the Quarter program Oct. 1, good practices alike can infuse positive practices among residents.
"You can definitely see when someone cares. Personal touches are recognized," said Warren. "We hope to generate a new attitude, and infect the community in a good way."
Even though Soldiers agree to adhere to the authorized housing policies at receipt of one's quarters, policy does not stipulate how a home should be decorated.
"You can't make people do anything (in the way of beautifying a home). Best thing is to inspire people and generate a sense of pride," said Warren.
If issues with housing arise, residents should first contact the designated building coordinator, who will engage the housing NCO or housing officials, if necessary. Contact Customer Service for repairs at mil 337-9999 or civ (0611) 7050-9999.