Soldiers and family members spoke to Fort Hood leadership about the quality of the post’s family housing Thursday evening during a town hall-style meeting at Howze Auditorium.
And the response was not good.
Mold was one of the main concerns, with some stating they and their family members had to be hospitalized because of it.
“My three kids and myself have been sick ever since we moved into this house,” said Megan Alyss Mannino on the Facebook thread of the live video broadcast. “I love my set up, but breathing is so hard. We go to an asthma and allergy (doctor two) times a week for everyone and nothing is helping. I’ve found mold in bedrooms, but no one has ever come out to take care of it. I’ve asked for my carpet to be removed and I have to jump through so many hoops to (just) figure out how to legally remove it.”
More than 20,000 soldiers, spouses and children live in post housing, not counting soldiers who live in the barracks.
Maintenance response times was another big concern, with some saying it was taking weeks or months to get a response to their maintenance requests. One person even said their issue would not be taken care of because it would cost too much money to fix.
“Who do we call when maintenance flat out tells us they won’t fix a hot water pipe in the wall for laundry because it would require them taking the whole wall out and that would ‘cost too much money,’ so we cannot and have not been able to use the hot water to sanitize clothes for almost a year?” asked Anna Marie Dubose on the Facebook thread. “Or, how about a (hole) on the roof that was leaking water directly into the breaker box for over two years before the (hole) was finally fixed but the wood is molded out and the breaker box was never repaired or changed out?”
Fort Hood Family Housing is owned by Australian firm Lend Lease and is responsible for more than 5,500 homes on the installation. Mack Quinney, project director for Fort Hood Family Housing, briefed during the town hall the number of maintenance requests they receive annually.
According to Quinney, post housing receives more than 5,000 emergency maintenance requests a year, which includes air conditioning or heaters not working in extreme temperatures and water leaks. Maintenance is required to respond to these within half an hour and fix issues within 24 hours. Urgent requests, such as a stove or toilet not working, account for more than 15,000 annual requests and must be responded to within 24 hours and completed within two days. Housing receives more than 47,000 calls for routine maintenance, which they are required to respond to within three days and complete within five.
Those times were not always followed, however, according to one attendee who did not give her name during the town hall. She described a leaking window which fell into the emergency category which took two weeks to have anyone from maintenance even show up to look at.
In the Facebook thread, Brittany Hacker commented that her “sink won’t turn off and I called earlier this week and a plumber can’t come out until March 4.”
The town hall came about after Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper ordered a full investigation into civilian owned and operated post housing at all Army installations following a U.S. Senate committee hearing about the general dissatisfaction of military communities Feb. 14.
“We are deeply troubled by the recent reports highlighting the deficient conditions in some of our family housing,” Esper said. “It is unacceptable for our families who sacrifice so much to have to endure these hardships in their own homes. Our most sacred obligation as Army leaders is to take care of our people — our soldiers and our family members.”