HUNTSVILLE, Ala - It's a conversation sweeping the nation, companies part of the Military Housing Privatization Program have left homes on military bases in disrepair. It's a growing concern across the country and right here in North Alabama. Family Housing residents at Redstone Arsenal have concerns and the command staff is working to address them.
For decades the military has paid rent to private housing contractors to manage properties. Redstone Arsenal uses the company, Hunt. Senior Commander, Lieutenant General Edward Daly, says Redstone Arsenal and Hunt have been rated as the number 1 housing area in the country. Daly says the rating is based on occupant feedback from a third-party consultant.
"We know that there are some problems in these houses. And we don't think that just because you're number one, you don't have a lot of work to do. And so Hunt is committed, we again, are going to hold Hunt accountable for quality of service, responsiveness, quality of life...No life, health or safety issues that go unchecked," he said.
As part of an Army-wide directive, the Huntsville base is holding three town hall meetings. They held one of those town hall meetings Wednesday night. More than 70 families attended and voiced their concerns.
Daly says those included, quality of the completion of work orders, Hunt's responsiveness to work orders, concerns about scheduled maintenance being done to standard, and concerns about understaffing. There were also concerns about lawn care and pest control.
Daly says he is taking full responsibility for these issues.
"We have taken our eye off the ball so to speak. We have to re-engage and we have to hold this company accountable and we have to do it right now and we have to take immediate action."
Issues on bases across the country have been outlined in national newsstands. Those issues have included lead paint on walls. That is something Daly does not believe is an issue on Redstone Arsenal.
There are 354 homes on Redstone Arsenal Daly says 347 of them are occupied. In addition to the town hall meetings, arsenal command staff will be inspecting each home to check for shortfalls they feel like they should be made aware of.
"What we guaranteed the occupants last night, and what we will continue to reinforce, is that if there is any issues of life, health, or safety they will be fixed immediately or the family will be given other options, for example, to be moved to a hotel," Daly said.
Daly says he wants to rebuild trust between residents at Redstone and the command staff. He hopes this shows that the army does care about their living conditions.
Hunt wants to be a partner in these changes. Their assistant vice president and director of operations were present at the town hall meeting Wednesday night. Hunt's vice president of corporate communications, Cindy Gersch released a statement:
"Recognizing the importance of serving those who serve and sacrifice so much for our country, Hunt takes these matters extremely seriously, holds itself accountable and is committed to continuing to make necessary improvements to offer every resident high-quality housing. We are aware of the concerns and are working diligently with our local team members in tandem with our Army partners as well as Hunt Corporate staff to address those concerns as quickly as possible."