FORT POLK, La. — Home is a roof over your head, but it’s also a place to relax and recharge before heading out to face the world again.
Between frequent moves, deployments and training, that can be especially true for Soldiers and their Families. For that reason, one of the last things they should have to think about are housing issues.
Fort Polk’s Housing Assistance Office, 1820 Corps Road, building 330, helps deal with those housing challenges and provides government oversight for all Fort Polk housing. The office is run by Betty Beinkemper, Fort Polk’s housing manager.
The office’s oversight includes barracks for Soldiers, Corvias housing, InterContinental Hotels Group and concerns Soldiers and Families may encounter on Fort Polk or when renting off post.
“We are the advocate for Soldiers and Families on and off the installation when it comes to housing issues with Corvias, local real estate agents and more,” said Beinkemper.
Wesley Fairchild, installation housing manager, said the office’s first priority is to provide the best possible service, support and housing available to Soldiers and Family members, as well as civilians living in Fort Polk housing.
“We strive to take care of all Soldiers and tenants equally, regardless of rank or position,” Fairchild said.
Fairchild inspects a house when a tenant moves out, as does Corvias.
“I look at the condition of the unit, its serviceability, the structure and anything the could affect environmental, health or safety,” Fairchild said.
A copy of his report is sent to Corvias and paired with their maintenance inspection to address between-occupancy maintenance. Once maintenance is completed, Fairchild inspects the home again before a new tenant moves in.
Conflict resolution is another service the Army Housing Office offers.
“If there is an unresolved issue between the Soldier and Corvias, we act as the liaison between them, based on the situation. We can assist the two sides coming together for the best viable solution,” Fairchild said. “That could include anything from the property manager fixing an ongoing maintenance issue to the Soldiers violating the lease agreement. Those are not the only scenarios, but we are there to help regardless of the situation. We strive for the ideal outcome that ends with both parties happy with the solution.”
The concerns of housing residents are a priority for the Housing Assistance office.
“We work with the resident, Corvias, U.S. Army Garrison and unit leadership to resolve any issues,” Beinkemper said.
Fairchild said his most important task is taking care of Soldiers and their Families.
“I get a true sense of satisfaction when they are happy and taken care of,” Fairchild said.
Garland Richardson, installation housing manager, said the office is a source of information in reference to all things housing.
“It’s information that Corvias may not be able to provide such as a Soldier’s basic allowance for housing. Some Soldiers don’t even know about BAH or if they qualify,” Richardson said. “The housing office is here to advise them, answer their questions and even assist them with completing the required documents to request BAH authorization.”
In addition to inspecting privatized housing on Fort Polk, housing inspectors like Richardson also inspect the barracks.
“This is to ensure our service members and their Families are living in housing that is adequately maintained and meeting the standards set forth by the Army,” Richardson said. “The services we provide contributes greatly to the health, welfare and quality of life for our men and women in uniform, their Family members and the Fort Polk community.”
Beinkemper said one of her biggest goals is to clear the way for military Families moving to Fort Polk to make their transition smooth.
“Often, as soon as they get their household goods delivered, the Soldier is headed to the box (Fort Polk’s training area) for training. I want them to have the best home that we (Corvias and Army housing as a partnership) can provide for them,” Beinkemper said. “We need to offer them the peace of mind that comes with their Family living in a safe and adequate home. Those kinds of worries should be the last thing our Soldiers are concerned about while training for the mission.”
For more information call the Housing Assistance Office at (337) 531-6000.