If survey results were grades, Fort Carson housing would get a “D” after just 64% of the soldiers and dependents who responded to a survey said they were satisfied with their housing on the Army post south of Colorado Springs.
Among the biggest issues was maintenance, with residents complaining that repair requests frequently get no response, the survey showed. Others included disputes with neighbors; lengthy waits to have hail damage fixed; the value they are getting on post for their housing allowances; and better parks, roads and parking.
Almost a quarter — 24.7% — of the approximately 10,000 residents living in 3,446 private family homes on Fort Carson answered the annual survey, conducted from April 23 to May 31, the Army said in a news release Thursday.
“I was expecting those results to be a little bit higher,” said Col. Brian Wortinger, Fort Carson garrison commander. “However, any feedback is good feedback. What we intend to do with everything that we’ve received from our residents is take that viable information, use that to apply resources going forward, so that we can focus on those areas that are of most concern to our residents.”
The Army privatized post housing in 1999, working with builder Balfour Beatty Communities to improve living conditions for soldiers and their families. However, about half of Fort Carson’s houses are older, mostly from the 1970s. The oldest post housing Wortinger was aware of was built in the late 1950s.
In February, Fort Carson leaders hosted a town hall to address the rising discontent over housing. Since then, Wortinger said, Balfour Beatty has processed more than 16,000 maintenance orders, and the builder is working with Fort Carson to renovate homes in the “legacy” community — homes from the 1970’s that need the most maintenance.
Since the town halls, the Army requires a review of 5% of work orders and that housing staff contact residents to see if the work was done to their satisfaction. Army housing representatives are also present at move-ins.
Balfour Beatty has increased staff and training to help resolve maintenance issues, Wortinger said. The company also developed an app for residents to submit orders and track their progress.
Two summer hailstorms last year caused $80 million worth of damage at Fort Carson. Replacing more than 3,400 roofs and 1,000 windows was expected to take two years, Wortinger said, but it appears to be ahead of schedule.
In terms of the value soldiers are getting for what they are spending on housing, Wortinger said that was out of the private builder’s control. The housing allowance is set by the Army based on what’s going on in the market outside the gates, he said, and is adjusted annually.
“I would really have a concern if I didn’t feel we were providing a fair relative value, but when I look across our enterprise and I see a consistent 97% occupancy rate and we have 847 people sitting on our wait list, I feel reasonably comfortable that we’re providing a fairly representative value compared to what we do have outside the gates for the housing allowance we receive,” Wortinger said.
For Wortinger, who’s lived in Army housing, the subpar rating was a disappointment.
“I was really hoping that we would see a better improvement,” he said. “What that motivates me to do is just kind of redouble our efforts. We need to get after this even harder than we have been, to try to ensure that we’re providing the best community we can here at Fort Carson.”