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Army housing survey shows small bump in privatized housing satisfaction. Here’s how your base rates.

Karen Jowers

Army housing survey shows small bump in privatized housing satisfaction. Here’s how your base rates.
Two Army housing surveys conducted in late 2019 show mixed results for residents’ overall satisfaction — with the privatized housing score inching up, and Army owned and leased housing ticking downward.

The overall satisfaction score for privatized housing moved to 75.1, just enough to bump it into the “good” category, an improvement from the score of 74.6 in the Spring of 2019. There was an uptick in the quality of maintenance, which has been a problem for a number of families living in privatized housing. See how your Army base’s privatized housing rates here.

The overall satisfaction score for Army owned and leased housing moved down slightly to 69.5, from a previous 70.3, bumping it into the “below average” category. See how your Army owned and leased housing rates here. And with this housing, the survey showed the residents have significantly different opinions about their housing than their garrison commanders and their housing chiefs. Residents ranked their housing much lower than their base leaders did, indicating that the results should be reviewed by housing chiefs and garrisons to better understand residents’ issues, the researchers stated.

“We are absolutely committed to providing safe and secure housing on every installation, and making every installation an installation of choice for our soldiers and families,” said Gen. Gus Perna, Army Materiel Command commander, in a statement. He has been leading the Army’s charge to improve its housing. “The action we take from these survey results will be another step to hold ourselves and privatized housing companies accountable to provide a high-quality standard of living and to earn back the trust of our housing residents.”

As problems with mold, lead paint and other health and safety issues in military privatized housing have gotten the national spotlight during the last year, service officials and privatized housing companies have vowed to address the problems quickly. Service officials have hired more personnel for installation housing offices, have implemented a tenant bill of rights (except for four key elements), and are addressing lack of response to work orders, among other things.

Lawmakers set a number of requirements into law that would improve the military’s oversight of privatized housing, and address problems with maintenance and other issues.

The surveys were conducted between November and December, nine months after military spouses testified before lawmakers about the conditions in their privatized housing.

Categories in the surveys range from “outstanding” to “crisis.” Each installation was rated based on its score; Army-owned housing at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nevada was the only installation that ranked in the “crisis” category. Hawthorne’s score moved down 14.9 points from the Spring of 2019, to 42.5. But Hawthorne also has small numbers: and of the 17 residents, only three responded to the survey.

Scores are not percentiles of the population; but are based on a 1-100 scoring range. The benchmark for “outstanding” ratings in any of these ratings indexes is 85 points or higher.

CEL & Associates, an independent, third-party organization, conducted the last two sets of surveys in the Spring and Fall of 2019. They also conduct housing surveys for the other military services, and for a number of different clients in the private sector.

Privatized housing

Out of the 43 installations with privatized housing, 26 had an increase in overall scores; 17 had decreases.

The contractor sent 77,406 surveys to residents at the 43 installations with privatized housing, and received 19,054 responses, for a response rate of 24.6 percent.

*Tenants’ overall satisfaction score of the physical condition of their homes decreased by 0.2 points from the previous survey, but the overall rating for their landlords’ service increased by 0.9 points.

*The most notable increase in landlords’ service was in the quality of maintenance, by 1.6 points, for an overall maintenance score of 79.6.

*Among the bases with privatized housing, Fort Greely, Alaska, a Lend Lease property, had the highest overall score, with 90.6. But it also has a smaller number of houses; 68 surveys were sent and 29 percent responded. Fort Huachuca and Yuma Proving Ground, both Michaels properties in Arizona, came in second and third in the scores.

*Walter Reed housing in Bethesda, Md., a Balfour Beatty property, ranked last, with a “poor” score of 60.8. It displaced Fort Bragg from last place in the previous survey. Bragg, a Corvias property scored 63.5 this year, in the “poor” category.

*69 percent responding residents are aware that the housing office is their advocate, indicating that more education may be needed.

Army-owned or leased housing

The contractor sent 9,707 surveys to residents of Army-owned or leased housing at 23 installations, and received 2,233, for a response rate of 23 percent. Responses were received from 22 installations, and the responses were separated into 26 installations.

*The residents’ perspective on their housing experience was much different overall than garrison commanders and housing chiefs. Residents’ overall satisfaction ratings index for their housing was 69.5, while the garrison commanders’ was 82.7 and the housing chiefs, 85.7.

*The installation with the highest overall ranking in this survey was Fort AP Hill, Va., with a score of 97.5 out of 100; followed by Tobyhanna Army Depot, at 93, and Fort McCoy, 86.6.

*Next to housing at Hawthorne Army Depot which moved into the “crisis” category, three other Army-owned or leased housing locations ranked as “very poor” — housing owned in Stuttgart and Italy, and Army leased housing in Miami.

*54 percent of the installations rated their landlord’s service in the “good” or higher range; 42 percent rated the service at “below average” or lower.

*85 percent of those responding said they are aware that the housing office is their advocate. But 43 percent of residents are “satisfied” with their housing office’s role as advocate, and 19 percent are dissatisfied.