Senior leaders at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., acknowledged last week that oversight of nearly 2,000 privatized military homes had slipped since DOD transferred family housing to private contractors 14 years ago, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
At a command town hall in Offutt’s Rising View community, 55th Wing Commander Col. Gavin Marks pledged officials would continue to address poor living conditions and slow repairs.
“As an institution, we took our eyes off this. We privatized it, and then we walked away,” Marks told residents, according to the report. “This is command business. We are getting at this.”
In the mid-1990s, DOD transferred responsibility for building, managing and maintaining most of its military family housing to private contractors, and in 2005 Omaha-based Burlington Capital assumed control of on- and off-base military housing for Offutt AFB. Burlington Capital in turn built more than 900 new units and renovated hundreds of others in the Rising View community, according to the report.
However, after service members and military spouses testified at congressional hearings last February about poor condition homes, mold and slow repairs by contractors, some of those problems were echoed locally through social media by Rising View residents, the report said.
Following the hearings, senior DOD leaders ordered inspections of every privatized military home, and at Offutt AFB the inspections revealed 96 homes with “health and safety” violations, such as mold or lead paint.
“To date, all of them have been rectified,” said Rising View Leasing Manager Sara Webster, according to the report.
A resident survey has shown that 76% of Offutt AFB residents were satisfied with the health and safety of their homes, but the satisfaction rate fell well below the Air Force average. Burlington Capital’s survey scores have slipped badly since 2017, according to the report.
At last week’s town hall meeting residents said they are afraid to move out of their Rising View homes because managers have a reputation for loading up damage charges during final move-out inspections, the report said.
Webster responded every inspection is reviewed by Offutt’s military housing office and noted that many of Rising View’s 38 employees are residents and are former service members or military spouses.
“We do our best to treat you guys fairly,” she said, according to the report. “We just ask that you turn it back the way we turned it to you.”
Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford