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Town Hall provides housing issue updates

Base residents were invited to the Tinker Club recently for a residents-only Town Hall which provided updates on the ongoing improvements being made to base housing as well as the legal options that residents have for damaged property reimbursement.

Members of Tinker Air Force base leadership and leadership from Balfour Beatty Communities were in attendance at the May 22 meeting along with incoming 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Paul Filcek. Outgoing Commander of the 72nd Air Base Wing Col. Kenyon Bell led the meeting, updating residents of the current status of the recent housing issues. 

“As we promised, we’re going to do these periodically so we can make sure there’s two-way communications about what’s taking place for Tinker housing. There are some things happening locally as well as across our Air Force and Department of Defense,” Bell said. “We don’t do this alone, this is a partnership. A lot of the conversations have been about where the chain of command is and I want you to know that your chain of command is right here.”

Installation Management Division Chief within Civil Engineering Keith Bueller gave a current update on the status of housing repairs which includes 94% completion of a commander’s review of all base housing and 100% completion of replacing the problematic PEX water lines.

“As of today we’re down to nine issues remaining to be done,” Bueller said. “They’re primarily moisture inspection requests and we’re getting close to finishing that up.”

An outside contractor, Blackmon Mooring, has been hired by BBC for moisture mitigation inspections and remediation and Col. Filcek expressed concerns that residents had of moisture control issues being painted over. To ease resident’s worries, there will now be before, during and after photos taken of all service requests.

Bueller says the Military Housing Office, previously known as HMO, has also approved the hiring of four additional staff members within privatized housing. The Military Housing Office is staffed by government employees who support and advocate on behalf of the military housing residents.

“Those individuals are going to help us with compliance checks in the houses, walk throughs, move ins, move outs and all the things we do on a routine basis with Balfour Beatty.”

Installation Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Col. Amer Mahmud was on hand to answer any legal questions residents may have as well as inform residents of the housing related claims process.

“We have a pretty robust legal office here. Probably the largest in AFMC when it comes to personnel and the mission that we do,” Mahmud said. “One of the things I want to point out, at least for the folks that aren’t familiar with the legal office, is that if you have a military ID card you’re entitled to legal assistance.”

Mahmud also pointed out that the Department of Defense no longer owns the privatized housing that residents live in at Tinker.

“It’s not the DOD that owns these houses, but the interesting overarching issue is the commanders have large equities in the safety, health and welfare of service members and their dependents. So, you have that overarching issue and it drives commander at faultment,” he said. “It needs to be understood that you have more than just one resource out there. You have legal assistance, you have commanders, you have property managers with BBC and you have the HMO folks. There are a lot of people out there who can help navigate these issues that inevitably come up.”

Mahmud went on to discuss the claims process for those who may have had damage done to personal property due to the housing problems.

The first step for residents is to file a claim with BBC in writing requesting a return receipt. Residents should be sure to keep a copy of all correspondence with BBC. If a claim is denied by BBC, they should then file a claim with their renters insurance. If the claim continues to be denied they can file with the Air Force Claims Service Center under the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Act.

If a resident’s claim is denied by the AFCSC, their next option would be to file a civil lawsuit against BBC. It’s important to note that if residents have already filed a claim against BBC for the damages, they can’t receive compensation from AFCSC until the lawsuit is settled.

To initiate a claim with the AFCSC residents can call 877-754-1212. Required documentation includes an assignment to quarters letter, orders and any Amendments assigning you to the location of the incident, witness statements, civil engineering work order, repair estimates, replacement costs, photographs of the items and damages, insurance declaration letter and BBC denial documentation.

The next residents-only town hall will take place in mid to late July at the Tinker Event Center. For more information on Tinker housing including a Resident Bill of Rights visit tinkerafbhomes.com.