By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsOctober 8, 2019
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- While the military and its partners in privatized housing struggle with the challenge to provide quality housing to servicemembers and their families at many of the nation's installations worldwide, there's largely a good news story to tell at Fort Rucker.
And that story is only going to get better thanks to the efforts of Fort Rucker leadership and local housing partner Corvias Military Living, according to Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, Fort Rucker and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general.
"We are doing very well in terms of the quality, the maintenance and the upkeep of our housing, and the feedback from our residents is largely good," Francis told local news organization representatives during a media roundtable on housing Oct. 2 at the Allen Heights Neighborhood Center. "Where we have had challenges in the past, we have made corrections, such as in the responsiveness to maintenance calls.
"The chain of command at Fort Rucker and Corvias are 100-percent committed to putting our Soldiers and families in the very best quality of housing that we can provide. We are in good shape, but we are never satisfied -- we will continue to press to continue to improve everything from housing to the playgrounds to our barracks," the general added. "Corvias has been a great partner in identifying and addressing the issues that we found at Fort Rucker, which were not as significant as in other places around the Department of Defense, but nevertheless, they have jumped in with the chain of command and we are moving forward."
That push for improvement includes major renovations to 108 classic homes in Munson Heights, which have already begun, and renovations to 550 homes in Allen Heights, including duct modifications, weather proofing, increasing energy efficiency and replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, which will begin this month, said Melissa Bryson, Corvias operations director at Fort Rucker.
While those renovations are key to ensuring quality housing at Fort Rucker for years to come, Corvias has also taken immediate steps to improve the services it provides to residents, she added.
"We recognize, as a company, that we have made some mistakes that have had negative impact on our customers," Bryson said. "We are committed to taking care of that."
This year, Corvias has added 15 employees -- 12 on the maintenance end and the others on the office end, she said. The company also brought its call center in-house, so all calls are handled by a Corvias team member on Fort Rucker instead of being outsourced.
"We've decentralized our maintenance to a neighborhood concept that allows individual maintenance teams in each of our neighborhoods," she added. "We added additional contractors, we host weekly community events in all three community centers -- some large scale, some small scale -- and we get a lot of participation from our residents.
"We also implemented a work order resident portal and mobile app, so people are able to view their work order status, able to enter it into the portal, and able to view the status and progress of their work order on their phone," Bryson said.
The company also rolled out its Corvias Commitment, started a resident advisory group, and "we enhanced our training program, and implemented a more enhanced preventative maintenance plan where we do preventative maintenance on 100 percent of homes on a more detailed scope than we previously did," she continued.
Additionally, Corvias began playground improvements and upgrades the first part of October, along with its hazardous tree removal project, Bryson added.
Corvias officials expect the renovations in Munson Heights to be completed in April 2021. The first home completion and move-in is scheduled for January, the operations director said, adding that Corvias quit leasing the homes in the neighborhood in March to help ensure no forced moves of families were required.
Corvias' and local leadership's response to the concerns people expressed at the housing town hall earlier this year and the extensive renovations under way are indicative of the partnership the Army and the company enjoy at Fort Rucker, according to Col. Whitney B. Gardner, garrison commander.
"Fortunately for us, we have a fantastic relationship built on communication, trust and respect," the colonel said. "Ms. Bryson is my teammate, and we're able to bounce ideas off of each other to make sure we're meeting needs of the residents at Fort Rucker."
And taking care of Soldiers and families is Job 1 at Fort Rucker, Gardner added.
"It's all about combat readiness," he said. "If we've got Soldiers out there whose families are unhappy with their living conditions, then we will have problems. It will affect our readiness over the long term. We want to make sure our families are well taken care of, and that they've got the best resources and living conditions possible. That keeps the Soldier happy, that keeps the pilot in training happy, so they will continue to want to serve in the U.S. Army."