CAMP ZAMA, Japan – U.S. Army Garrison Japan leaders shared housing updates and listened to feedback from residents during a town hall at Kizuna Hall here Thursday.
The forum discussed a range of issues from housing assignments to renovations and a potential policy change to allow pets inside the Camp Zama housing towers.
Col. Marcus Hunter, in his first housing town hall as garrison commander, said afterward it was beneficial for him to hear directly from community members in the audience.
“It’s important because sometimes when I get feedback, if it is not straight from the community, it’s not as candid,” he said, adding that face-to-face contact can be more helpful for leadership to address issues.
One of the questions Hunter responded to was the possibility of Army civilians being required to move out of on-post housing to make room for incoming service members and their families.
The colonel said civilians can reside in housing on Camp Zama or Sagamihara Family Housing Area if there is a surplus of units.
“Thankfully here we do have a surplus, and we’ve been able to, for many years, house civilians and service members in Army housing,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have any plans or we haven’t notified anybody that they will have to move out.”
He added this would be subject to change depending on Army missions and priorities.
While the Army requires residents to have a minimum notice of 30 days before they need to move out, Hunter said the garrison will strive to notify affected personnel up to six months in advance.
The Housing Office here will also help identify suitable off-post housing options and move them at the Army’s expense if the move is a qualifying Army-directed move, he added.
Command Sgt. Maj. David A. Rio, senior enlisted leader of USAG Japan, then discussed the process of how the Army assigns housing units to community members.
Rio said incoming personnel attend a counseling session at the Housing Office, which determines their housing assignment by their rank or grade and family size.
“Those are the two variables that the system uses to inform the counselor,” he said, adding that the first available home will then be assigned to families when they reach the top of their respective list.
It can also take a short time until someone can move into a home due to maintenance and renovation projects, he said.
Hunter later spoke on the possibility of having pets inside the two high-rise apartment-style complexes on Camp Zama. Currently, only cats are permitted in units located on the first floor.
Leadership plans to consider how a new policy would benefit the community, as well as ensure there are designated pet relief areas and proper guidance for pet owners to follow.
“The option to have pets in the towers is being relooked,” Hunter said. “Every family comes with its unique situations, and … pets are [often] a big part of that.”
Jesus Chavarria, the housing division chief, said several homes have been slated for renovation, including two quarters at Eagles Nest, 20 homes at Kite Peak, and 20 homes at Crane Acres.
Residents affected by any renovations would be notified well in advance and their move will be funded by the government, he said.
Chavarria also said that five of the 23 playgrounds at Camp Zama and SFHA are currently closed due to renovations. Some alternate play areas for children include Dewey Park and Arnn Elementary School after school hours.
As the high mold season normally runs through October, he reminded residents to control moisture and condensation to prevent the overgrowth of mold in their homes.
Residents are responsible for cleaning an area affected with mold if under 10 square feet in size and under 9 feet above the walking surface. If greater than that, or if it is a recurring issue, residents can call the Facilities Maintenance Branch at DSN 263-4754/5859/5952.
For maintenance service requests, Chavarria said residents can go to www.ArmyMaintenance.com or call the Directorate of Public Works service order desk at DSN 263-4274/4613. Dial “046-407” and the last four digits if calling from a cellphone.
Chavarria went on to share the garrison’s latest results from a tenant satisfaction survey, which stood at 87.3% so far for this fiscal year.
In fiscal 2022, the garrison had an 87% satisfaction rating that was ranked fifth out of 23 garrisons that have family housing owned or leased by the Army.
Hunter admitted that while housing here can be considered old, it is still in very good condition.
He said that during a recent visit from a top Department of Defense housing official, who toured some of the garrison’s oldest and least-renovated homes and barracks, she was still impressed with the state of housing here.
The colonel said that DPW does a great job in maintaining homes but acknowledged that more can be done to enhance the living conditions.
He reminded residents to continue to share their feedback and utilize the Interactive Customer Evaluation comments, or ICE, to keep leadership informed.
“There is always room for improvement,” he said, “and we are always striving to make things better.”