Story by COL Catherine Wilkinson on 09/23/2019Residents of Lincoln Military Housing at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston participated in a town hall with JBSA and LMH leaders at the Military and Family Readiness Center here Sept. 18.
The town hall, the fourth of its kind to be held this year, gave interested residents the chance to hear about process improvements and receive an update on recent customer satisfaction surveys. Residents also had the opportunity to have their voices heard by senior leaders and share their experiences with living on post.
Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, the U.S. Army North commander, spoke to residents at the start of the meeting. While Richardson is new to Fort Sam Houston, she is no stranger to military housing issues. She recently served as the acting Forces Command commander and was deeply involved in housing issues at Fort Bragg, N.C. earlier this year. Richardson also served as the first commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia and has first-hand experience with historic housing challenges and joint basing issues.
Richardson encouraged residents to provide feedback during the town hall, or directly to LMH, so that issues can be resolved. "If we don't know about your problems, we can't fix them," she said.
Mike Mathews, the deputy manager of the Army Support Activity, which oversees the privatized housing contract here, told residents that the ASA team now inspects 100% of all move-in and move-out appointments in homes, inspects every life, health, or safety work order and contacts five percent of residents as a spot check following routine work orders. He encouraged residents to take advantage of the new Housing Environmental Health Response Registry and gave an update on a new historic building process improvement strategy. The Army is in the initial stages of reviewing its processes for historic buildings in order to better meet the needs of today's residents.
Allyson McKay, the LMH Executive Director, provided updates on efforts her team has made to better serve residents. Lincoln has a new mobile app for routine work orders, is refining the notification process to let residents know exactly when a technician will be at their home, and is aggressively seeking customer experience feedback to refine processes. She has hired additional maintenance staff and quality control inspectors to help the process run more smoothly and effectively.
Residents who spoke at the town hall all praised Lincoln's maintenance technicians and said they have seen marked improvements, but they let McKay know that the contractors and vendors were not performing at an acceptable standard. She promised to look into the contractor issue and directly apologized to one resident for a litany of unacceptable issues the resident shared during the meeting.
Residents also provided feedback about the lack of accessibility to community centers, standing water, and multiple, large potholes in roads across the installation, as well as their concerns about water quality.
Col. Sam Fiol, the 502nd Force Support Group commander, and Col. Pete Velesky, the 502nd Air Base Wing vice commander had engineering and medical experts on hand to address these issues. Fiol told residents he will look into other options for community centers on base as well as repairing the Splash Pad adjacent to the Ed Parker Youth Center in the Watkins Terrace residential area. Velesky let residents know the Joint Base has requested funding to replace several roads. Both leaders told the crowd they will work with LMH on the pothole issues in and around the residential areas.
Lt. Col. Brian Clarke, the 59th Medical Wing bio-environmental engineer, briefed residents on the extensive water testing program on post and assured them the water is safe to drink. "The water on JBSA meets or exceeds all federal and state regulatory requirements," he said. Water is tested weekly and he added that even though residents may not see it directly, testing is taking place.
Richardson wrapped up the meeting by thanking residents for their feedback and asked them to let her and other leaders know about problems they see. "You all are my scouts," she said, referring to military reconnaissance scouts. "You let us know what you see and what we can do to fix things quickly."
For more information, residents can call the LMH call center at 210-225-5564. Please note that emergency work orders should be called into that number, not submitted via the app. The Housing Environmental Health Response self-registry number is 1-800-984-8523 or 210-295-3700. Information about JBSA water testing and quality is available online at https://www.jbsa.mil/Information/Environmental.aspx