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Tenant feedback drives housing programs improvement

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Department of the Air Force housing program officials are analyzing data from the recently completed 2020 Department of Defense Annual Tenant Satisfaction Survey for trends and ways to improve the enterprise’s privatized and government-owned housing portfolio and tenant experience. 

A private contractor distributed the survey to the DAF’s 68 privatized housing locations with an overall response rate of 30.1 percent.  Overall, privatized housing projects scored an average rating of 77.2 in the survey, which concluded Feb. 5. The DAF’s target metric is 75 or higher. In 2019, the average satisfaction rate was 79.1.

This year’s results reflected more accurate data due to survey revisions. The lower score since last year is likely due to service and maintenance delays from COVID-19 precautionary measures taken by project owners, said Jennifer Miller, acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy.

“We expected the improved survey to yield more accurate feedback,” Miller said. “We depend on honest feedback from the tenants to help us assess the performance of the projects and to understand where adjustments are needed to improve the resident experience.”

With DAF financing the survey for the first year, government-owned family housing projects were included in the data pool. The 14 government-owned projects scored an average of 74, a “very good” by industry standards, and “acceptable” by the DAF’s performance indicators.

The overall score is a general indicator of project health and will aid housing leadership in developing sustainment plans, budgets and financial restructuring. The scores are comprised of ratings in nine business success factors: readiness to solve problems, responsiveness and follow-through, property appearance and condition, quality of management service, quality of leasing, quality of maintenance, property rating, relationship rating and renewal intention. Within each category, tenants answer a set of questions using a sliding scale. 

“The Department takes tenant feedback seriously,” said Col. Sara Deaver, Air Force Housing Division chief at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, who oversees the management of DAF housing. “I look forward to working with the military housing and project owners to address the concerns our Airmen and Guardians raised in the survey.”

Eleven installations earned Crystal Service Awards in 2020 for outstanding performance in 2020. The award recognizes installations with multiple neighborhoods that receive an overall score of 85 or higher and 20-percent or higher resident response rate.

Crystal Service Award recipients are:

  • Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida (Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC) 
  • Moody AFB, Georgia (BBC) 
  • Hurlburt Field, Florida (Corvias Military Living) 
  • McConnell AFB, Kansas (Corvias) 
  • Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina (Corvias) 
  • Peterson AFB, Colorado (Lendlease) 
  • Dyess AFB, Texas (BBC) 
  • Shaw AFB, South Carolina (Hunt Military Communities) 
  • Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona (Lendlease) 
  • Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota (BBC) 
  • Beale AFB, California (BBC)

“We are proud of the projects that stood out,” Deaver said. “We are grateful to them for providing our military families with safe, quality, affordable, well-maintained housing communities where they choose to live.”

Representatives from each military department, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the third-party survey company worked together to evaluate and clarify the questions used following congressional testimony highlighting the possibility of misinterpretation. For example, the term “property manager” left many tenants unsure as to whether they were evaluating the military housing office or the private company charged with property management. 

Survey officials restructured the questions to ensure their effectiveness at capturing a project’s health and tenants’ sentiment in relation to the housing program. The goal is to ensure the integrity of tenant feedback while improving the trust tenants have in the tools provided to them to voice their concerns directly to the project owner, MHO and AFCEC.

Project owners at locations that received business success factor scores below 69.5 are required to submit an action plan to AFCEC within 30 days of the survey data being released. They are required to work closely with their installation’s housing office to monitor and track their progress in making program improvements. They’ll also report to AFCEC at quarterly intervals, said Yvonne Brabham, Air Force Housing Division technical director.

“Tangible changes have been implemented in the DAF housing program that many tenants have started to see, such as a more robust satisfaction survey,” Brabham said. “The Air Force understands we have more to do and are now better equipped with the feedback provided from our Airmen and Guardians to take the necessary measures to provide the quality family homes that our warfighters deserve.”

The DoD Annual Tenant Satisfaction Survey OMB control number is 0704-0553 OMB, expiration date March 31, 2022.

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