Resident advocates key to rebuilding trust in AF privatized housing program
By Zoe Schlott, AFIMSC Public Affairs
/ Published June 18, 2020
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Department of the Air Force welcomed its first group of privatized housing resident advocates June 15 with a clear mandate: rebuild trust in the privatized housing program.
The Air Force established the RA positions as part of a sweeping effort to improve privatized housing customer service and quality. Sixty new resident advocates will be hired in the next year to support more than sixty installations. Resident advocates are the keystone to the privatized housing program’s future success.
“Thank you for stepping up and serving in this special position,” Hon. John W. Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Installations, and Energy, told the group of over 30 advocates during a virtual training session. “Our Air Force housing program professionals have always served as advocates for our residents, but you all are being asked to lead the full-time focus of gaining back resident trust and confidence in the privatized housing program."
Henderson made his remarks at the beginning of a week-long virtual training program for advocates to develop skills in problem solving, partnering with base resources, dispute resolution, the basics of the privatized housing program, improvement initiatives, and roles and responsibilities to create situational awareness as they step into the role.
Henderson described RAs as the embodiment of the enterprise’s commitment to its residents to do better.
The Air Force expects most bases will have resident advocates who are positioned to act as “super liaisons” between the tenant and the Military Housing Office, the project owner, the wing commander, medical, security forces, base legal assistance office and more,” said Robert Moriarty, director of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Installations Directorate.
“This group of resident advocates are the Air Force’s pathfinders,” said Col. Michael Beach, chief of the Air Force’s privatized housing program. “They will tell us what works and what doesn’t in their roles, and significantly influence how the housing program operates in the future.”
Being the boots on the ground in the housing communities across the Air Force, RAs will become "that friendly face residents come to know and trust,” Beach said. They will be positioned to spot the issues not visible from behind a desk and bring them to the wing commander’s and Air Force leadership’s attention to take corrective attention quickly. They also provide continuity as leadership changes every few years and ensure that no family feels alienated in those leadership shifts.
“Through the week’s training you all will become competent sources of information for residents and leadership alike,” said Henderson. “As good stewards of resident trust, your actions will speak louder than your words and we all look forward to seeing the resident advocates demonstrate the Air Force’s commitment to the housing program’s improvements.”
Advocacy is a two-way street, Henderson explained and asked that residents provide real-time feedback to RAs and their leadership to help ensure as the new positions grow and develop they are meeting the needs of residents.