Wright: Faster Maintenance, More Accountability Improve Housing

CMSAF Kaleth Wright speaks to members of the 823rd Maintenance Squadron during a base tour Oct. 19, 2018, at Nellis AFB, Nev. Air Force photo by A1C Andrew D. Sarver.

Problems with unsafe and substandard housing on Air Force bases are declining thanks to a renewed focus on contractor maintenance and accountability, and requests answered more promptly, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said July 24.

An in-depth, in-person review of thousands of housing units across the Air Force showed staggering problems, Wright said, but now “things have improved.”

Wright said he visits enlisted and officer housing during every base visit he makes, and the responses he’s receiving show housing contractors are improving their approach and response times to maintenance requests. It’s not perfect, he said, but it is getting better.

The Air Force is withholding about $4.3 million in fees from Balfour Beatty Communities, which operates on-base housing at 21 installations. The company had falsified maintenance work logs that it delivered to the Air Force, Stars and Stripes reported.

This issue “shined light on practices that were not above board,” Wright said. Now “that company has been held accountable.”

Early this year, the Air Force reviewed 9,861 units suffering extensive problems with mold, chipped paint, vermin droppings, and “other maintenance concerns.”

Wright also said the Air Force is working to improve on-base childcare centers. Some bases lack sufficient capacity, while others have the physical capacity but not enough staff, Wright said.

To address the shortages, the Air Force is looking for ways to provide military personnel incentives, and when feasible, to use off-base childcare options, Wright said. It is also trying to improve pay and career opportunities for on-base child development center staff.

“Attacking both of these [problems] will help,” Wright said.