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Privatized housing sees improvements, increased oversight

A recently renovated Balfour Beatty Communities home awaits further construction at Tinker AFB, Okla., May 22, 2020.  Tinker AFB leadership and the Air Force Civil Engineering Center have worked with Balfour Beatty to improve conditions and keep the company accountable. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2Lt. Danny Rangel)

A recently renovated Balfour Beatty Communities home awaits further construction at Tinker AFB, Okla., May 22, 2020. Tinker AFB leadership and the Air Force Civil Engineering Center have worked with Balfour Beatty to improve conditions and keep the company accountable. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2Lt. Danny Rangel)

Joel Cisneros, a contractor hired by Balfour Beatty Communities, performs construction work on a utility closet inside a base housing unit on Tinker AFB, Okla., May 22, 2020.  Base officials have pushed Balfour Beatty to commit to a long-term plan of action to improve base housing and address serious health hazards inside homes. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2Lt. Danny Rangel)

Joel Cisneros, a contractor hired by Balfour Beatty Communities, performs construction work on a utility closet inside a base housing unit on Tinker AFB, Okla., May 22, 2020. Base officials have pushed Balfour Beatty to commit to a long-term plan of action to improve base housing and address serious health hazards inside homes. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2Lt. Danny Rangel)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Results are starting to show in the quest to improve living conditions for Airmen, Sailors and families at Tinker Air Force Base. After significant effort and engagement from the top of the Air Force down to the installation, the company responsible for managing privatized homes at Tinker has made progress toward eliminating unsafe housing conditions.

Last October, the Air Force gave Balfour Beatty Communities 90 days to develop a plan to address myriad issues including water leaks, mold damage, and health conditions in military housing across the Air Force, including Tinker. The Air Force threatened to impose financial penalties and a possible termination of contract if the Privatized Owner did not make substantial improvements. Base officials have worked with the company to implement a comprehensive plan.

“Our Team Tinker families deserve quality housing,” said Col. Paul Filcek, 72nd Air Base Wing and Tinker installation commander.  “This is a top priority for us, and we cannot be satisfied until we eliminate existing health and safety issues while also creating enduring solutions. To that end, we are continuing to hold Balfour Beatty accountable and we relentlessly work through our Military Housing Office to quickly address residents’ needs.”

The Department of Defense recently established the Tenant Bill of Rights, designed to ensure privatized housing residents receive fair treatment and quality homes from management companies like Balfour Beatty. Base leadership and the Air Force Civil Engineering Center have worked to implement these rights, including the right to report inadequate housing standards and the right to prompt, professional maintenance of housing units.

“We are working with Balfour Beatty to ensure a better system is in place,” said Stephanie Wilson, 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineering director. “We want to make sure residents are being heard from and have confidence that Balfour Beatty will provide quality, safe facilities free of health hazards. Residents have rights, and we are working to ensure the Privatized Owner is listening.”

Balfour Beatty says it is working to put more resources into completing work orders and addressing mold and moisture problems. Base officials confirm the company has reduced health and safety work orders from more than 200 in late October 2019 to just 16 in May 2020. In the past six months, the company has held two community town halls and six Tinker Resident Council meetings, and has hired additional personnel to help eliminate health and safety issues in homes.

“We have definitely adjusted our approach,” said Balfour Beatty project director Dan Frederick.  “We have a comprehensive plan in place and have made great strides continuing to focus on building relationships and trust with residents, which is critical to sustaining a successful community here at Tinker.”

Despite recent improvements, base officials stress that more work remains and they are committed to providing effective oversight of maintenance projects while also serving as a voice and advocate for base residents.

“Tinker’s Military Housing Office has monitored Balfour Beatty’s corrective measures and have worked hard to hold the company accountable,” said Keith Buehler, 72nd Civil Engineering Directorate Installation Management Division chief.  “While the company continues to commit more resources to the problem, we are attending inspections, advocating for residents and following up with the Privatized Owner and base residents to ensure quality homes for our Airmen, Sailors and families.”

Tinker AFB has made a resource web page available for privatized housing residents at www.tinker.af.mil/Home/Privatized-Housing. Residents can also contact the Military Housing Office at (405) 582-1977 for information on housing options and support services. For information on Balfour Beatty housing and current promotions, visit tinkerafbhomes.com.