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Fort Leonard Wood Adds Staff And Increases Communication To Fix Base Housing Issues

Homes on base at Fort Leonard Wood will receive additional attention to maintenance following a national review of housing policy by the armed forces.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio
Homes on base at Fort Leonard Wood will receive additional attention to maintenance following a national review of housing policy by the armed forces.

Soldiers and their families who live on base at Fort Leonard Wood will now have quarterly opportunities to express any concerns about their homes directly to the Garrison Commander.

And the staff that handles inspections and oversees repairs to the more than 1,800 homes at the base in the Ozarks will increase from three to five.

Those changes are the result of a national effort to review the quality of military housing and address concerns about delays in repairs.

The Military Family Advisory Network issued a scathing report to Congress last month showing substandard conditions at on-base housing across the country, and concern about reporting problems for fear of reprisal. The Department of Defense mandated a complete review and inspection of all bases around the country.

Garrison Commander Col. Eric Towns oversaw the effort at Fort Leonard Wood. It began with a town hall meeting at the end of February where about three dozen residents complained of issues ranging from unfair billing practices for utilities to delayed repairs to unresolved mold issues.

“We heard them loud and clear on many issues,” Towns said.

The town hall meetings will be held quarterly with commanders in attendance, he said.

Towns said he sees the daily reports on housing issues at military installations around the country. “Based on that data, Fort Leonard Wood has far less issues than other locations,” Towns said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have some things that we need to fix. We want to make sure that our residents have a clean and healthy and safe residence.”

Some of the changes are coming at the national level, but Towns said Fort Leonard Wood will benefit from them.

An energy-conservation program, which rewarded homes that used less energy and levied additional charges to homes that were above average, has been canceled.

“The program was very unpopular, and people thought it was unfair,” Towns said. “And we were told that the style of some houses made it difficult to stay under the average energy use.”

In addition, the Army is adding positions to help with inspections and overseeing repairs.

“We will have 100 percent quality assurance when inspecting and repairing homes before a new family moves in,” Towns said. “So that really ensures that the residents that are about to move in receive a home that’s free of any maintenance concern.”

Other changes include higher standards on speed of addressing life, health and safety issues at housing, as well as reducing the wait time on work orders.

The houses on base at Fort Leonard Wood are owned and operated by Leonard Wood Community Homes, a partnership between the Army and Balfour Beatty Communities, a private company.


Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

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Jonathan Ahl joined Iowa Public Radio as News Director in July 2008. He leads the news and talk show teams in field reporting, feature reporting, audio documentaries, and talk show content. With more than 17 years in public media, Jonathan is a nationally award-winning reporter that has worked at public radio stations in Macomb, Springfield and Peoria, IL. He served WCBU-FM in Peoria as news director before coming to Iowa. He also served as a part-time instructor at Bradley University teaching journalism and writing courses. Jonathan is currently serving a second term as president of PRNDI ââ
Jonathan Ahl
Jonathan Ahl reports from the Rolla Bureau for St. Louis Public Radio. His duties also include covering central and southern Missouri for Harvest Public Media. Before coming to St. Louis Public Radio in November of 2018, Jonathan was the General Manager for Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, Illinois. He previously was the News Director at Iowa Public Radio and before that at WCBU in Peoria, Illinois. Jonathan has also held reporting positions in central Illinois for public radio stations. Jonathan is originally from the Chicago area. He has a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is an avid long distance runner, semi-professional saxophonist and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.