By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsJuly 17, 2019
The Fort Knox Garrison has formed a team of inspectors who are working with its housing partner, Knox Hills, to improve housing experiences for all on-post residents.
Earlier this year, officials from U.S. Army Installation Management Command decided to hire teams of quality control inspectors to serve as liaisons between the Army and residents to ensure maintenance needs are being met.
Fort Knox hired two inspectors.
"Their focus is verifying that Knox Hills is completing maintenance work orders," said John Griffanti, an engineering technician at the Fort Knox Directorate of Public Works. "Knox Hills has been doing a very good job, but the Army wants to verify that we are taking care of our people."
One of the inspectors, Bobby Jenkins, a housing manager, said they focus on checking homes that residents are preparing to move into as well as conducting random follow-up calls to residents who have had routine and emergency maintenance work done.
"This is about quality assurance to make sure things are getting done," said Jenkins. "The purpose of all of this is to ensure that occupants have a clean, safe house."
He and Todd Mitchell conduct regular inspections of homes prepared and repaired by Knox Hills for new tenants getting ready to move in --what they call change of occupancy maintenance inspections. According to Jenkins, Knox Hills usually turns a house around in about two weeks after residents move out.
Then when Jenkins and Mitchell are called in to inspect the home, he said they try to put themselves in the mindset of a renter.
"There's already a ton of work that Knox Hills has done when residents move out," Jenkins said. "Once they say it's done, we do our inspection. When we come in, we look at everything that someone on the outside should be looking at if they're renting a home.
"We check everything on the inside, but we also check everything on the outside; what I call curb appeal."
Mary-Ellen Correia, Housing Division chief with the Fort Knox Directorate of Public Works, said the inspections must be thorough to safeguard residents.
"Before a resident moves into a new home, we inspect it for life, health and safety issues, and also the overall condition of the facility to make sure it's clean, safe and habitable," said Correia.
Since May 12, Jenkins and Mitchell have conducted over 370 change of occupancy maintenance inspections. They have also followed up on about 34 emergency maintenance calls for residents already living in homes.
Of those, only one or two have required follow-up repairs, said Jenkins, and Knox Hills fixed the issues quickly.
"If their maintenance guys miss something, they have guys they can call who can be here in five minutes," said Jenkins. "There was one time that they put on a new sink trap but it didn't get screwed down, I called and in five minutes the guy was in and out, 'I got you fixed.' They do a good job."
Correia attributed it to an already great working relationship between Knox Hills and Fort Knox, pointing out that Knox Hills recently hired a subcontractor to get residents' lawns mowed consistently and professionally after some voiced complaints. The lawn care company started Monday.
"We are fortunate because we don't have a housing crisis here," said Correia. "We have some things that Knox Hills is working to improve, but overall they take very good care of the residents."