Base housing at Fort Rucker is getting upgraded and renovated as part of a $325 million investment Corvias has with the Department of Defense to modernize homes across six Army posts.
“It’s no secret that we have had a challenge with housing across the Department of Defense. We have a good news story to tell at Fort Rucker today. With our housing situation and our partnership with Corvias, I will tell you that we are doing very well in terms of the quality, maintenance and the upkeep of our housing,” Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, Fort Rucker Commanding General, said.
“The feedback from our residents is largely good. Where we have had challenges in the past, we have made corrections. Responsiveness to maintenance calls and responsiveness to any type of need that a resident has at Fort Rucker has improved. Overall we are doing very well. Our partnership with Corvias is very strong and I think we are in good shape.”
There are currently 1,476 houses on base with a total of 816 new homes constructed between 2006 and 2018. During this process 121 homes have been demolished. Corvias reports an average of 22,922 work orders per year with 310,992 work orders having been completed since April 1, 2006 with 99.3 percent being completed on time.
The houses are seeing a variety of renovations, but none bigger than the houses in the Munson Heights development, according to Corvias Operations Director Melissa Bryson. “The houses are being stripped to the studs and built back up. Some of the houses have had renovations, but some of them date back to the 1950s.”
"We always want to make sure that we are providing the very best housing for the service members and their families, so we want to make sure that we have modern homes that are energy-efficient that offer the very best to our customer," Bryson said.
The modernization starts with Munson Heights. Munson Heights has a total of 325 homes; 108 of those are considered classic. "We have 108 what we're calling classic homes that are the older homes that are already scheduled for renovation by Corvias," said Maj. Gen. Francis.
Of those 108 homes, 76 are currently unoccupied in an effort to start the renovation process. “We stopped leasing those homes in March of this year. We do have 76 currently vacant so that will eliminate the need to do force moves,” Bryson said. “As renovations are complete those homes will be available for occupancy.”
Many of the classic homes had lead based paint. No occupants have experienced negative effects due to the paint. “We have always tested for and eliminated lead based paint over the years. We did not start that with the housing crisis. That was already an ongoing process at Fort Rucker. We continue to do that. We have had no residents that have had any ill health effects because of it. We are doing that as a precautionary measure. Once we complete the classic home renovations we will be rid of all lead based paint.” Maj. Gen. Francis said.
“We perform regular testing and inspections to ensure everyone is safe. No peeling paint. No hazards,” Bryson said.
Prior to the major renovations of the classic homes, Corvias completed upgrades and maintenance of the houses to keep them up to date. “All our homes undergo preventative maintenance every year. We try to do that at change of occupancy. Our goal is to do preventative maintenance at least once a year,” Bryson said.
Soldiers that are single and ranked E1-E5 are required to live in the barracks. Someone that has dependents or E6 and above are eligible to live on post.
“I think it is a testimony to quality of housing that we have 96 percent occupancy. That means that people are choosing to live on post,” Maj. Gen. Francis said.
Residents have access to community centers that can serve as gathering places for family and friends. A swimming pool, fitness center, computer lab, media center, clubroom, and a multipurpose room are all offered at the community centers.
Fort Rucker Garrison Commander Col. Whitney Gardner said these renovations are essential to combat readiness. “It is all about combat readiness. The process of joining the Army and training and going back out is stressful. We want to make sure our families are well taken care of, they’ve got the best and the best living conditions possible. That keeps a soldier happy, that keeps the pilot in training happy so they will continue to want to serve in the United States Army.”
Gardner was complimentary of Corvias’ efforts. "Our Corvias partner here is extremely proactive. They have brought in additional personnel. The response time is fantastic and they've been really able to gang tackle some of the minor issues we're seeing within these homes," Col. Gardner said.
One of those issues was a busted water pipe in Warrant Officer James Manning's house that flooded at 3 a.m.
According to Manning, Corvias responded quickly to fix the problem and moved his family into a different house within days. "It's been a pleasant experience living here,” Manning said. “I haven't had any real issues other than a pipe burst, but they took care of it."
Although Manning's time on Fort Rucker has been a positive one, Corvias admits to mistakes.
"We recognize that we've made mistakes and have had a negative impact on our customers," said Bryson. "We own it. We are fixing it. We are doing everything we can to take care of our customers and we are committed."
Corvias is planning playground upgrades and hazardous tree removal throughout the neighborhoods and HVAC upgrades in Allen Heights. “We also have playground improvements and upgrades underway, hazardous tree removal, 550 homes in Allen Heights community will receive HVAC duct modifications and replacement of heating and cooling units. That is starting this month and in addition to that we are doing weatherproofing and energy upgrades,” Bryson said.
“There are 64 playgrounds currently. We may reduce the number of playgrounds but we will make them larger and better,” Bryson said.
Changes are being implemented across all installations where Corvias partners. Fort Rucker is not the first installation to see changes. “We are always testing to see what is going to work. We make modifications based on the feedback we receive from our residents. If we see something doesn’t work, we will definitely modify it based on feedback,” Bryson said.
“Corvias takes feedback from residents but chain of command is also very involved,” Francis said. “Visits from leadership, from all level of command at Fort Rucker to housing units and talking to residents, talking to soldiers and their families, that teamwork of command engagement and Corvias engagement is what is making us successful.”
The first house completion and move in is scheduled for January 2020 and the remainder are set to be completed by April 2021.