By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsSeptember 19, 2019
The housing agency for Fort Knox has made several improvements at the installation over the past 12 months that have garnered praise, but officials say they are determined to continue seeking input from residents and improving processes.
In the most recent CEL housing survey, Knox Hills ranked 8th among 40 military installations and achieved an 82% customer satisfaction rating.
"The feedback that we have received from the Army and from our partners as well as from our residents indicate that we, particularly at Fort Knox, don't have the same level of issues that other folks have, or are dealing with at other locations," said John Bredehoeft, Lendlease project director for Knox Hills and its sister project, Campbell Crossing, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. "We were much better positioned going into the issues that came up, so now we are striving to make ourselves even better going forward."
Bredehoeft identified three overarching issues that have surfaced during town halls and housing surveys that they have focused on - landscaping, communication and pest control. Bredehoeft said pest control is being addressed on a case-by-case basis, even though very few complaints about it.
Landscaping issues peaked over the summer when constant rain presented challenges for the landscaping contractor at the time.
"From what we learned through surveys and town halls, a lot of it focused pretty heavily on landscaping, which we have tackled," said Bredehoeft
In July Knox Hills hired Mainscape, a national landscaping company, to take over lawn maintenance duties. Bredehoeft said many of the concerns since have disappeared.
"We've seen a lot of improvement on the mowing and edging as well as in a lot of the services that a landscape company provides," said Bredehoeft.
Communication has been a more difficult issue to tackle, according to Bredehoeft.
"Communication is something that can always be improved on, and I think it is something that we never can settle on but continue to work through with new technologies," said Bredehoeft.
One of those technologies is a smart device application that connects residents' problems directly with Knox Hills' solutions. Bredehoeft said Fort Knox positioned itself at the forefront of app development, joining a pilot program that has helped to implement it. To date, more than 50% of residents use the app.
"We're one of the highest in the Lendlease portfolio in terms of people adopting the app," said Bredehoeft. "That's really high considering probably half of the residents move out every year.
"I think the app is going to bridge a lot of gaps and address some of the questions we have heard with regard to communication."
Called the Resident Café, the app allows users to submit and track work orders, upload pictures with problems they have, and eventually offer push notifications that will allow residents to know when a technician is heading to the residence to fix an issue.
Lendlease has also hired a team that Bredehoeft said is dedicated to customer service to increase effective communication and better address residents' issues.
Fort Knox leaders started the communication process in March when they conducted town halls to provide residents ample opportunities to speak their minds about issues they have faced. Residents were also afforded the opportunity to have a more private audience with leaders, some of whom walked through post homes to see some of the issues for themselves.
Another housing town hall is scheduled for Sept. 30. During that session, Fort Knox leaders and representatives and Knox Hills officials will encourage residents to speak freely about any issues they may have or those that have been addressed but not resolved.
"Knox Hills has been in a very good position. We have a great project and a great team here dedicated to providing the best quality housing for families that we can," said Bredehoeft. "All that being said, we don't believe we're perfect. We always strive to improve, so we're not going to sit back on our haunches and just accept that we're in a good position.
"We're going to keep pushing to make things better."