Fall housing survey ends, emphasis continues

U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz personnel gather for a meeting before going door-to-door in Baumholder Military Community housing areas to promote participation in the 2019 Fall Army Housing Resident Satisfaction Survey Dec. 13, 2019. The survey wrapped up with an overall participation rate of just over 25 percent. Courtesy photo

U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz wrapped up the 2019 Fall Army Housing Resident Satisfaction Survey in December 2019 with an overall participation rate of just over 25 percent.

Results of the Army-contracted survey are expected to be released soon, but the work isn’t finished — lessons learned from 2019 survey efforts will be put to use soon as the Army is expected to conduct two more surveys in 2020.

“The surveys are happening more frequently because the Army is listening,” said Col. Jason Edwards, garrison commander. “Your feedback is being used every six months to determine if the Army’s efforts are lining up with your needs. That’s why it’s important to continue the emphasis on participation ­— because your voices are shaping efforts in real time.”

In an effort to maximize survey participation, the commander went door-to-door in Baumholder housing areas along with Command Sgt. Maj. Brett Waterhouse, Deputy Garrison Commander Dr. Kevin Griess and a team of Army professionals from the Directorate of Public Works.

The face-to-face interaction with families during the final two days of the survey helped bring the final participation level up nearly 8 percent compared to the spring 2019 survey participation rate of 17.5 percent.

Baumholder Housing Customer Service Chief Charm Sutton said the housing office identified a couple factors that hindered survey participation.

“The survey itself is not mandatory — while we have various agencies promoting the survey and participation, to include our garrison commander physically going door-to-door, it’s not mandatory,” she said. “So, what you see with that is the people who are satisfied don’t really participate, and on the other end of the spectrum, the people who are deeply dissatisfied don’t feel like their voice or opinion matters, so they often don’t participate either.”

But, she argued, those voices absolutely do matter.

“If you really want to improve the quality of living at your installation, you have to communicate what you want and need,” she said. “These surveys that are being conducted by the Department of the Army help determine where actual tax dollars are going in your community — you have to let them know. They need to know, and that’s why they’re asking you.”

Another roadblock to survey participation was residents not receiving the survey email, which is sent by a third-party associate. Sutton said the Baumholder Housing Office have vetted all residents’ email addresses, personal and official, so the next survey period shouldn’t see the same issue.

Still, she recommended that residents reach out to the housing office if they know it’s survey time and they haven’t received an email within the first few days of the survey’s launch.

And although roughly a quarter of Baumholder’s housing residents just responded to the recent survey, Edwards said they shouldn’t feel discouraged to take it again when it comes back around in the spring.

“We don’t just want your feedback one time — we want it to be continuous. We want to hear what’s working, and what’s not,” Edwards said. “If the situation or your sentiment has changed, whether good or bad, we want to hear about it. The survey is an opportunity to voice that. Even if you’re brand new to the community, give us your first impression and then tell us how it changes over time by participating in the surveys.”

“At the local level, resources restrict how much we can alter the environment. For big changes and lasting impacts, we need support from the top — and that’s why the Army housing surveys matter,” he emphasized.

Information about the next Army housing survey will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, residents can reach out to the Baumholder Housing Office any time at 0611-143-531-2978.