Tinker housing off AFCEC’s watch list after addressing safety issues

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Woodruff 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

For nearly four years, military housing at Tinker Air Force Base has been mired in mold issues. That’s no longer the case as Tinker has been removed from the Air Force Civil Engineering Center watch list.

According to Andrew Furman, Housing Management Branch chief, the watch list was developed for bases with privatized housing projects that were underperforming, leading to living conditions that did not meet standards for Airmen and their families. The Air Force list originally included six Air Force bases.

In September 2018, officials from Balfour Beatty Communities and military housing officials found mold in 370 of 660 or 56% of mechanical closets they inspected in Tinker’s military housing area.

“To get off this list, in-short, BBC became compliant and met the standards in areas such as work order response timeliness and responsiveness to reports of moisture/mold concerns in homes,” said Furman. “Also, occupancy rate, increased standards for maintenance inspections, satisfaction scores from residents and decreasing the number of dissatisfied customers played a part in the removal.”

In January 2020, there were 170 open mold work-orders and the average days to complete them was 98 days. By December the following year, the average completion time had decreased to 25 days.

Furman said currently there are only six open mold work orders and of those, only one home is occupied and no families are displaced from their homes.

The change didn’t happen overnight and in fact, Furman said the Air Force put in a lot of time working with BBC.

 “It took a lot of oversight from the Air Force Military Housing Office and involved two meetings a week for a long time, and they still meet once a week,” said Furman. “We helped with identifying trends and fixes to be made, though it is important to note we could only suggest the fix, not tell them how to fix it. We are in much better shape now.”

Brandt Fleharty, 72nd Civil Engineering Installation Management division chief, agreed and said we are in a good spot.

“BBC has done more and hired more staff, to include more maintenance techs, improved response times, and boosted resident engagement,” said Fleharty. “Residents have to approve work order closeout through a text message process and that adds extra oversight not only by Air Force but gets residents engaged and gives them more control of the process.”

Fleharty added that the occupancy rate has really turned around going from 66% a year ago to the current state of more than 92%, showing marked improvements and consumer confidence.

“The tools are in place to continue improving,” said Furman. “BBC brought in a new project director for AMC West that oversees their projects, and he spent a year and a half exclusively here at Tinker. There is also a new community manager and I feel like the staff tries to do the right thing by the residents.”

Fleharty agreed and said new staff has improved and communication is much better.

“The project director being here put a lot of focus on improvement, and this is probably a big reason we got off the list,” said Fleharty. “BBC also hired an environmental specialist so that person could come out and assess complaints on-the-spot, and she’s dedicated just to Tinker, and that normally isn’t the case at other bases.” Fleharty said that is an awesome position to have here, she can go and assess then tell them what to fix.

Mold isn’t the only focus for housing improvements.

Furman said improvements are being made to siding, paint, roofs, flooring and new HVAC systems. Soon smart thermometers will be going in the units.

“The Air Force also came up with four additional positions here at Tinker just for oversight,” said Furman. “The Air Force established the resident advocate position, currently Ms. Ebony Bond. She works for the Vice Commander, not for Civil Engineering. She owns the elevated dispute process after MHO tries to resolve resident concerns.”

Furman added that the MHO is here for the residents and if they cannot get resolution with BBC, they may call the MHO office at (405) 582-1977.

 “The amount of oversight and focus the MHO has put in, combined with the amount of effort to track work-orders, assess emergencies, and verify the work by BBC was done correctly, has worked wonders,” said Fleharty. “Engagement from MHO has really done a lot.”

 “We value our partnership with BBC and appreciate the effort and expense to bring the housing for our military and their families back up to meet the high standard for living they deserve,” said Stephanie Wilson, Base Civil Engineer. “We still have more to do and we are confident that together we’ll ensure safe living conditions for our families.”

For more information on military housing, visit the websites https://www.housing.af.mil/Home/Units/Tinker/ and www.tinkerafbhomes.com.