Travis AFB reviews base housing conditions, ensures Airmen standard of living

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christian Conrad
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. –Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein recently ordered an Air Force-wide review of all privatized housing to be completed by March 1.

Wilson and Goldfein directed commanders at all Air Force installations to partner with their respective base property management companies in conducting a “100 percent review” of all military housing by the end of February. The goal of the effort is to take a proactive approach to resolve any potential or chronic issues facing housing residents while also emboldening Airmen to voice their concerns.

In addition, the inspector general’s office is launching a review of how Air Force bases respond to housing health and safety complaints.

“Airmen are the priority at any base,” said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Sikorski, 60th Aerial Port Squadron superintendent. “Whenever news breaks of a problem facing a resource that’s enjoyed by the vast majority of your troops, it becomes your responsibility to ensure that problem is solved and solved quickly, not just in the interest of mission readiness, but more importantly, in the interest of the health of our Airmen and their families.”

As the superintendent of the 60th APS, Sikorski supervises more Airmen in base housing than any other squadron superintendent at Travis. It’s in that way he sees the housing reviews less as a proactive formality and more as a way for squadron leadership to advocate for the welfare of their Airmen.

“With the business of preparing and moving cargo and passengers all around the world, we need to make sure our Airmen are focused on the task at hand,” he said. “If they are worried about the health and safety of their families in their homes, they lose focus on the job, and that’s when mistakes happen. In our line of business, that could be costly. We in leadership need to make sure our Airmen and their families are taken care of at home so they can take care of the mission here and in the Air Force at large. If that means that we have to go to each of their homes to see firsthand what their issues are, then so be it. We want our Airmen to feel comfortable to bring issues up to us so we can advocate for them.”

The reviews revealed much. Of what they did, something in particular stood out—Mold.

“Unfortunately, some of the houses we looked at were beginning to develop problems with mold, mostly around old, leaky windows,” said Maj. Philip Lere, 60th APS operations officer. “If this survey had been conducted during the dry season, it is unlikely we would have accurately identified the extent of the problem. Now that we know more about the issue, we can start to get after these problems more effectively.” 

With a leak in her garage ceiling and a light bulb that doesn’t turn off, Airman 1st Class Nichole Krinberg, 60th APS air transportation apprentice, relies on Travis’ housing management company, Balfour Beatty, to make the repairs.

“My own experience with Balfour Beatty has been one of prompt service,” she said. “I’ve had a few issues that I’ve needed addressed on multiple occasions, but all of my concerns have always been quickly processed and looked at. Additionally, having leadership at the forefront of these issues is empowering. Seeing leadership annotate and address every concern brought to their attention affirms my belief in how they have Airmen’s best interests at heart.”

Despite Krinberg’s own experiences with Balfour Beatty, she acknowledges not everyone may have similar stories.

“I can only speak for myself, but I’ve had the most success calling and e-mailing Balfour Beatty,” she said. “After this housing review, though, I feel more comfortable coming to my leadership in the case those methods ever fail, and I definitely would encourage the discouraged to do the same.”

Amid all the lessons learned in the dialogue created by the housing reviews, Krinberg’s comments echo the one Lere hopes every Airman will keep with them in the future: speak up.

“Everyone on base has a right to live in a safe environment,” said Lere. “These housing surveys raised many relevant concerns and I want to make sure our base residents know that our leadership teams are there to make sure the needs of the members are met, including a safe place to live.”

The results of the housing review will be addressed on a house-to-house basis. The data will also be sent up to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force where it will be put into a report, possibly pushing Congress to enact a tenant bill of rights allowing military families the power to withhold rent or break leases to escape unsafe conditions.

For all Travis AFB housing concerns and requests, please notify the housing office at (707) 424-1474.