By Ms. Desiree Dillehay (Grafenwoehr)September 16, 2019
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria hosted the quarterly Army Family Housing Town Hall Sept. 12 at the Rose Barracks Chapel in Vilseck, Germany.
The event, which was live-streamed to the Garrison's official Facebook page, was an opportunity for Garrison Commander Col. Adam J. Boyd to provide a status update on housing across the four USAG Bavaria communities and for community members to ask questions or voice concerns.
The housing town halls began after housing concerns across the Department of Defense were raised to Congressional level in late 2018. In February 2019, unit and garrison leadership conducted visits to all government-leased housing, on-post housing and barracks to assess the scale and scope of housing issues. The garrison also held six town halls across Bavaria to address housing problems and questions.
Boyd's presentation focused on the Garrison's current status and where problems still exist, what improvements or changes have happened since the last housing town hall in June, and what the Garrison is moving toward.
What remains the same are some of the community concerns.
"The number one thing that we see is first and foremost customer service, second communication, and third, there is a wide-variety of discussion in terms of the actual conduct of service orders and being able to adequately respond to and fix the problem that might exist within a house," said Boyd.
Boyd also mentioned how important it has been to continue to increase chain of command involvement.
"At the same time, some of the same things that we have done was increase involvement across the board with chains of command in terms of being able to be the voice of the Soldier and the family member to get their problems solved, as well as helping ... of working toward the appropriate sponsorship to bring them on board."
In order to tackle these concerns and issues raised by community members, Garrison leadership and the Directorate of Public Works are currently working on four initiatives.
First, the Garrison is onboarding 12 new employees to the DPW housing section.
"We have identified an additional requirement and we are still looking to increase the number of workforce that we have across the board," said Boyd.
Second, the Garrison is working with the director of the Bundesanstalt fuer Immobilienaufgaben (BImA), the federal agency for real estate in Germany, to put landlords on notice that they are expected to uphold their end of the contracts and meet service order obligations.
At this point, Boyd also discussed the requirements for determining service order priorities, for both routine and emergency requests, for DPW as well as any contractors that perform maintenance on Army housing at USAG Bavaria. More information can be found at www.bavariannews.com/usag-bavaria-updates-phone-numbers-for-after-hours-work-order-emergencies/.
Third, the Garrison is working to develop a service and maintenance transparency tracker, which will provide automatic email notification for work order status, a user-friendly public website to check the status of a work order, and a ticket ID number for customers.
"Much like all of you, I have been a consumer of Garrison services in my entire career. Now I happen to be in the position where I am leading a Garrison," said Boyd. "I believe we owe you some form of transparency on work orders."
The employees developing this program are currently working through the privacy requirements in order to best protect community members' information.
Fourth, the Garrison has restructured the Housing Area Coordinator Program and has on-boarded a new housing noncommissioned officer in charge, who is conducting quarterly area coordinator meetings and training.
"He helps be our conduit with the chain of command," said Boyd. "Understand that he is an advocate for the Soldier, the family member and the civilian who are living in housing."
To reach the Housing NCOIC, call DSN 475-8624, CIV 09641-83-8624.
Other things of note from the way ahead, include:
• Housing will be closed a half day each week for training. The closure will be standardized and it will be publicized across Garrison communication platforms.
• Hours will be increased at the Recycling Centers, and there is continued improvement on the Self Help hours.
• More USAG Bavaria Housing How-to videos will be made to help newcomers and current residents. Visit go.usa.gov/xyqJD to find current Housing 'How-To' videos on the USAG Bavaria website.
• USAG Bavaria will offer more Sponsorship Training to lay foundation for improved Sponsorship Program.
• Continue to improve communication for maintenance processes, to include maintenance personnel arrival times and proper notification of delays or reschedules.
For more information about USAG Bavaria Housing, visit https://home.army.mil/bavaria/index.php/housing.
To submit a service order, dial DSN 475-6324, CIV 09641-83-6324. Community members can also make work order requests by visiting the garrison website (https://home.army.mil/bavaria/index.php/WorkOrder) for work order request forms and email information.
USAG Bavaria holds quarterly town halls to address housing issues. The next town hall is currently scheduled for November 2019.