Housing office works to reduce four-week backlog

by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Town hall meeting scheduled for Wednesday

The KMC Housing Office on Vogelweh recently took steps to reduce a four-week backlog for customers.
The backlog, a combined Housing and Furnishings Management Office issue, began with 21 unfilled employee vacancies, an increase of approximately 3,000 customers over the past year, and computer Photo1bproblems. For service members coming to Ramstein, a two- or three- week delay may exceed their 30-day allotment of temporary lodging allowance, which may cause them out-of-pocket expenses. However, the housing office will continue reimbursement as long as it’s through no fault of the member. The KMC office serves more than 47,000 Department of Defense personnel.

“The vacancies, increase of customers and the customer login system failure all caused a perfect storm,” said Debbie Perez, KMC Housing Office director. “This is my third summer here. I have never seen it this busy, but we are taking steps to make it better.”

The housing office is taking steps to decrease wait time and visits to the facility.

Perez said one of the best ways to curb service member wait time is to make appointments when people find a home as those appointments take priority over walk-ins.

Housing personnel also recommend processing certain services through their organizational email boxes. These processes include out-processing temporary lodging allowances, questions and answers about house hunting, overseas housing allowance stops, and FMO pickups. To date, emailing services reduced visits to the facility by 15 percent, Perez said.

One aspect housing employees have taken time to work on is the walk-in system. Due to a recent computer crash, they reverted to an analog sign-in without tracking and lack of focus on customer needs. The computer crash, combined with the increase in customers and lack of staff, caused five- to six-hour wait times.

“When the system was down, we didn’t know who was signing in and what they were being seen for. It was chaotic,” Perez said. “We decided to get our arms around it, implement the numbering system and use (a different software program) to log and track what people are here for.”

Now, by offering email out-processing, experiencing a slight draw down in customers, instituting a take-a-number-and-wait system, and having a different computer with different software, the wait time has been reduced to approximately two hours for contract reviews. Contract reviews is the longest wait time depending on the requested service, so individuals can expect to wait from five minutes to roughly two hours.

To prevent this from happening next year, the housing office is looking at the possibility of hiring seasonal surge support to help processing service members and their families during the summer months.

Town hall meetings are scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Ramstein’s Hercules Theater, and 3 p.m. Thursday at Vogelweh’s Kazabra Club.

For more information about housing, call the housing office at 489-6671 or 0631-536-6672.