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Scott commander to conduct 100% base housing review in support of Air Force directives

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Responding to reports of poorly maintained and unsafe housing across several installations, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein on Tuesday directed commanders at every base worldwide to conduct a “100 percent review” of the condition and safety of all military housing by March 1.

Asserting that the housing conditions reported Feb. 13 during a Senate Armed Services Committee and in media reports “are not acceptable,” the Air Force’s two leading officials took steps to ensure that senior military commanders are personally aware of the conditions that exist in military housing at their bases.

The effort, which begins immediately, is the housing equivalent of a safety stand down. The goal over the next 10 days is to conduct a 100 percent in-person health and safety check of all 74,500 family housing units in the Air Force.

“We’re conducting this review in two phases,” said Col. Leslie Maher, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander. “First, we’re asking residents to meet with us on Feb. 21 and 22 at our housing community centers. That will help us collect the data we need to assess overall conditions in the homes. The second phase early next week is to ask for volunteers to allow us to walk with them through their homes so we can get ‘eyes on’ for any issues that may be present.  We have 1,593 homes spread across five housing areas here, so this is absolutely a top priority for us at every level.”

The results from the data collection and surveys will give senior civilian and military leaders a more thorough understanding of the extent and severity of the problems and help inform responsive solutions.

In addition to walk-throughs with residents that “will document any health or safety risks,” the directive requires command teams to “solicit feedback from their Airmen about any health or safety issues in the housing they occupy.”

“Most troubling was the concern some families had that, if they reported a problem, they would face retaliation for speaking up,” Wilson and Goldfein wrote in their message to wing commanders.

“The health and safety of our Airmen and their families is commander business,” Wilson and Goldfein bluntly wrote, adding that a “standard checklist” will be used to ensure consistency across the Air Force’s sprawling operation and to provide a blueprint for addressing the problems.

“Our Airmen and their families should have military housing that will not adversely impact their health and safety,” Wilson and Goldfein wrote. “More importantly, they should have confidence that they can identify problems without retaliation or fear of reprisal. This is about taking care of our people.”

The directive also said suggested that senior Air Force leaders will be responsible for identifying and helping resolve a host of problems in housing where Airmen and their families live. As described during the Senate hearing, those problems include the presence of black mold, rodent infestation, flooding, radon and faulty wiring.

In addition to in-person reviews, Wilson directed the Air Force Inspector General to review how the Air Force responds to complaints about conditions at base housing. The Air Force is also conducting policy review to identify any directives that impede commanders from appropriately responding.