Garrison focus: improving “Our Home in Germany”


Anna Morelock
USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs

Army Family Housing has been a hot topic for 2019. In February, the Army directed installations to take a look at the effectiveness, quality and responsiveness of privatized housing for its Soldiers and families. While all housing at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden is government-owned, leaders joined in the effort hosting local town halls and conducting safety inspections across the garrison.
“Refining our housing processes has been a priority of mine since I took command last year,” said Garrison Commander Col. Noah Cloud. “This year we’ve been able to make a lot of changes and learned from the community about what is working and where we can still improve.”
Here’s a look at some of the housing efforts and accomplishments of the past year:
Health and safety repairs
Commanders across the installation completed almost 2,000 health and safety inspections in February and March in on-post family housing, barracks and senior enlisted and officer quarters. Any safety and health issues were immediately identified for Directorate of Public Works staff to address.
One issue sometimes found in housing is mold growth due to improper ventilation. Because of the difference in housing structures between Germany and the states, many residents aren’t familiar with the need to ventilate their homes daily. To learn more about preventing mold, visit www.dvidshub.net/news/315336/ventilation-eliminating-moisture-keys-stopping-mold-its-tracks.
For repairs beyond minor issues that can be resolved with a trip to the self-help store, residents are encouraged to put in work orders. No matter how small they believe the issue to be, residents should call (0611)143-548-4357 to submit a work order. A small drip or leak can turn in to a much larger problem if left unattended. If it’s an emergency after hours, the same number will get residents to on-call personnel.
Over the past year, DPW spent almost $1 million in parts and labor to complete 5,480 demand maintenance orders across all housing areas. These minor repairs include things such as unclogging drains, fixing leaks, and replacing doorknobs and broken tiles.
Water testing
Another issue discussed with residents at town halls over the past year was water testing. In fiscal year 2018, USAG Wiesbaden’s operations and housing used 163 million gallons of water. DPW’s Environmental Division, in accordance with Army and host nation standards, continued to test samples in housing and service facilities for lead and legionella bacteria.
Lead testing requires sampling in 20% of family housing units each year to complete 100% testing over a five-year period. This year, DPW finished up with 86% of the total testing and is expected to complete 100% in fiscal year 2020. Each year, a small number of samples are returned over the limit — about 8%. DPW immediately replaces faucets in these residences to mitigate issues. Residents are also always encouraged to use the best practice of running water for at least 30 seconds to flush stagnant pipes before using water from the tap.
Legionella testing is conducted annually in family housing; only one residence per multi-family unit. Of 147 buildings tested between November 2018 and January 2019, seven required remediation including system flushing and raising the water temperature to kill bacteria. Running water for at least 30 seconds before use is also recommended to prevent build up of bacteria in stagnant pipes.
Residents with questions about water testing, or testing at their specific residence, can call the Environmental Division at (0611) 143-548-4092/4093. Or, visit home.army.mil/wiesbaden and search “Environmental Division” for more information on water programs.
Housing assignments
Besides maintaining residences across four housing areas, improvements have also been made to DPW housing office procedures over the past year.
“We’ve established a more choice-centric approach for our customers by providing them the opportunity to view any assignable housing in their grade and bedroom category,” said Mary Schmitt, chief of DPW’s Housing Division.
Neighborhood centers, which opened this fall in Hainerberg and Aukamm, bring these choices for newcomers closer to the residents’ new homes. Housing office staff in the neighborhood centers now have more familiarity with their assigned neighborhoods and housing availability, and are more readily available to help answer housing-related questions for all residents.
Looking ahead
Army family housing continues to be on the radar at the highest levels within installation management. In August, more than 60 housing managers from across the Army attended the inaugural housing executive course hosted by Installation Management Command, which after a summer re-alignment now reports under the Army Materiel Command.
“While the summer months taught us important lessons about surging our efforts during peak PCS season, I am encouraged about the direction we are moving,” wrote Gen. Gus Perna, AMC commanding general in his Army Housing Newflash column. “This is an enduring priority for me and our Army senior leaders. We are in this for the long haul.”