Tinker leaders find numerous problems during survey of base housing
Tinker Air Force Base leaders found a range of problems in about 120 housing units on base and have added a government compliance officer to ensure the private contractor makes repairs.
Col. Kenyon Bell, installation commander at the Oklahoma City-area base, said the high-priority problems, including mold, will be addressed first by Balfour Beatty Communities, the private housing contractor responsible for the 600 housing units.
“We are committed to making sure we resolve this issue, that we keep residents informed and provide safe housing that our residents deserve to have,” Bell said Monday at a news conference on base.
Tinker was one of several military bases cited in a Reuters news agency report last year for having major deficiencies in its family housing. Problems were often ignored by private contractors responsible for the housing, and service leaders conducted little or no oversight of the contractors.
One Tinker resident, Janet Drive, testified on Capitol Hill in February that contractors were simply painting over mold and that military members who complained were threatened and intimidated.
Bell said Tinker leaders visited all 600 housing units and found problems in 20% that "run the myriad of housing discrepancies," from mold to pest control.
"In some cases, where people are living in conditions that are uninhabitable, they are being moved out into homes where they can live temporarily while the home is being fixed," he said.
Tinker will now have a resident construction manager assigned from the Air Force’s civil engineering center to ensure compliance by Balfour Beatty Communities, Bell said.
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Contractor says work on mold nearly complete
Many of the mold problems at Tinker housing resulted from defective plumbing systems.
Maureen Omrod, vice president of Marketing and Communications for Balfour Beatty Investments, said in a statement to The Oklahoman on Monday that “significant progress” had been made on remediation.
“This repair work commenced in 2018 and we have continued to work hand-in-hand with the Air Force and residents to address the matter as expediently as possible, including remediation of any moisture-related/mold issues,” Omrod said. “We are very pleased to note that this comprehensive project is now 98% complete and will be 100% complete by the end of this month.”
Mold problems associated with mechanical closets have also been addressed, she said, and the company has adopted a strict protocol to respond to future complaints about moisture in homes.
“We have also initiated a 100% follow-up policy on all completed service requests to ensure that all work has been completed to the resident’s satisfaction and there are no further issues or concerns,” she said.
Some residents are still contemplating legal action.
Norman attorney Woody K. Glass said Monday that he has been meeting with about 20 families who lived at Tinker. A lawsuit may be filed as early as this week, he said.
They have so far held off on a lawsuit because “we keep getting assurances that efforts are being undertaken to take care of these folks,” Glass said.
Some residents who grew ill from mold in their homes were not allowed to see specialists, even though it would have been covered under their health insurance, Glass said.
Bell, the installation commander, said he lives in base housing and that people affected by the problems are his neighbors.
“This is something that is personal for us,” he said.