Corvias housing was the hot topic at a recent Fort Polk town hall meeting. The event took place at Fort Polk and saw many residents in attendance, voicing concerns over the recent Corvia scandal.

Residents were encouraged to attend or follow along on a live Facebook feed and voice their concerns and opinions in hopes of finding some solutions.

Garrison Commander COL Jarrett Thomas along with BG Patrick Frank and CSM Jerry Dotson, Jr were on hand along with Sara White, Fort Polk Housing Director and Matt McGee from Corvias to listen to residents and answer questions.

COL Thomas felt the town hall was successful and thinks going forward he is confident there will be meaningful solutions.

There were about 30 residents present at the meeting followed by 11,000 views on Facebook. The Facebook video received a total of 500 questions or comments. Many of the same questions were voiced several times.

BG Frank said the two most important topics that soldiers being stationed at Fort Polk are concerned with is education and housing.

Frank, along with COL Thomas has stated that they are dedicated to ensuring that soldiers at Fort Polk have quality housing to live in during their time at Polk.

Matt McGee from Corvias gave a short presentation confirming that Corvias is committed to putting service members and their families first.

McGee explained that Corvias has recently made some changes to the way they handle maintenance and service calls.

In 2004 Corvias was awarded a 50-year contract by the Department of Defense under the military housing privatization initiative (MHPI) to manage and service the housing on Fort Polk.

BG Frank and COL Thomas assured everyone all of the questions asked during the town hall and through Facebook would be addressed and answered.

But that did not stop several of those in attendance from being angry about their individual housing situations or from demanding immediate answers.

Most of the complaints centered on the “constant” mold found in many of the homes and the carpet and flooring.

Other complaints were related to Corvias’ Permission to Enter (PTE) policy, the air conditioning systems, pet fees, potholes and playgrounds.

The Leesville Daily Leader and the Beauregard Daily News reached out to Corvias and COL Thomas to address the ongoing complaints seeking answers.

We focused first on the mold issue affecting many residents on Fort Polk.

Unfortunately, living in this area of Louisiana that is often wet with swampy-like conditions with high humidity can be the perfect environment for mold to grow.

We asked Mary Humphreys, Corvias Communications Representative, if testing has been done to prove that the mold growth is not the dangerous black mold?

“We take mold and mildew concerns and remediation very seriously, and we understand the severity. Upon getting a service call, with priority, we perform a thorough mold and moisture evaluation, through visual inspection or intrusive inspection, depending on the severity, and after evaluation, we perform the remedial activities in accordance with the US EPA suggested procedures and industry standards” Humphreys said.

The key to stopping the mold and mildew from forming or growing is to prevent excess moisture build-up. Corvias provides residents with information on how to prevent mold and mildew.

Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulturist with the LSU Ag Center in DeRidder explains that not all mold is bad.

Hawkins believes it’s the mold that occurs after a flood, or with a plumbing leak that leads to the health issues and problems.

Hawkins further explained that rain followed by cool temperatures for a few days, then it warms up making things humid are the perfect conditions for mold and fungi to grow.

Corvias states that their employees are trained on Mold removal and Prevention and Mold Awareness.

Corvias adheres to the recommendations set forth by the EPA, OSHA and the CDC. Once Corvias receives notice of mold a Maintenance Supervisor or Lead Maintenance Technician will inspect the home within one business day, or sooner in the event of an emergency.

Corvias issued a list of responses to many of the questions asked during the town hall. One resident was concerned about Corvias entering their home to do repairs or respond to an emergency while their young child was home alone.

Corvias responded by saying they respect their residents’ privacy and if the resident wants to be present when repairs are being done Corvias will schedule the repairs when the resident is available.

Corvias also states their maintenance team and subcontracted workers will not enter a home with a person under the age of 18 present unless they are accompanied by an adult.

Corvias also responded to the carpet and flooring complaints by saying that two years ago they began replacing carpet with hardwood flooring in common and living areas and leaving carpet in the bedrooms only. There are plans to convert more homes to hardwood flooring over the next few years.

In 2018 Corvias started replacing and upgrading HVAC units in housing. So far they have completed about 40% of the project. They will continue to replace or upgrade the units through the first quarter of 2020.

Just like everything in business and personally, everything needs to be budgeted. And the same goes for the repairs, upgrades and new builds that Corvias is dedicated to doing. They are continually working to improve the quality of life for soldiers on Fort Polk and around the country.

Going forward, Corvias is committed to re-opening the playgrounds within the next six months.

They are starting a program for residents to get home products such as air filters and light bulbs, with exchange, at no cost. And this summer Corvias will begin resurfacing 3.5 miles of roadway through the housing communities.

They will continue to explore other options relating to flooring and windows.

“We remain thankful for the opportunity to serve our residents and are committed to their satisfaction,” Humphreys said.

COL Thomas meets regularly with various individuals from housing and in light of the recent issues, he said he will increase the frequency of the meetings to ensure problems are being solved.

Residents are encouraged to communicate with Corvias and Garrison if there is a complaint or concern with housing.

Corvias can be contacted 24 hours a day by calling 866-436-2047 or online at polk.corviasmilitaryliving.com.

Residents can utilize the ICE complaints to reach Garrison or by approaching them when they are out and about in the community. BG Frank reads every ICE complaint that is made on Fort Polk and will forward them to COL Thomas to ensure action is taken as needed.

“That feedback we get from the residents is extremely important to us,” Thomas said.