Introducing Sheppard's Privatized Housing Resident Advocates

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SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Living on base is convenient for military families, but it can also come with its own set of challenges.

Recognizing a need to provide an intermediary to address past problems with privatized military housing and in an effort to continuously improve upon the care for active duty military, the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act introduced Privatized Housing Resident Advocates.

In September, Sheppard AFB welcomed its own resident advocate: Dixie Harding. Harding is a retired Air Force master sergeant with 22 years of active duty experience and another18 years of civil service. She has worked in housing her entire civil service career.

“Air Force is family,” she said. “So it’s what I live to do and this job gives me an opportunity to help take care of the military.”

Harding is the Military Housing Office liaison between Sheppard’s privatized housing contractor, Balfour Beatty Communities and the residents to help take care of complex issues that may not be resolved otherwise. The resident advocate works directly under the wing and is given all the resources necessary to help residents as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Harding said she has access to other organizations such as legal or the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. She can reach out to them at any time for advice and can even bring in experts if needed to resolve an issue.

“I’m kind of that third-party person outside the normal loop for housing,” she said. “I’m not here to protect the housing office or to protect BBC. I’m [here] for the resident.”

In addition to having a wealth of resources, Harding said she can also act as a guide to navigate the complex housing system when resolving issues. If someone isn’t sure who to ask for help, the resident advocate is a good starting point.

Harding said she can guide residents in the right direction and help them follow all the correct steps. If resolutions cannot be found through BBC or the housing office, Harding can step in and help resolve the issue.

Harding’s track record is excellent so far. Most issues that have gone to her were resolved within a week she said. She has already shown her commitment to the residents in her short time as the resident advocate.

“They’re not facing whatever it is they’re facing in housing alone,” she said.  “They can come to me and I can help them.”

There is no negative consequence for seeing the housing resident advocate. Harding encourages residents to seek her out if there is a problem and especially if residents don’t feel safe in their homes. The resident advocate is there to ensure that residents don’t feel like there is nothing they can do and they have to live with an issue in the home, she said.

“What happens at home carries over to work and the mission’s got to get done. So, in order to have a successful mission we need to take care of people,” she said. “So, I want them to know that I’m here. I want to help. They just need to come tell me.”

Currently, Harding is located in Bldg. 2113, room 113 and can be reached by phone at 940-676-HOME (4663). Additionally, a resident may be referred to the resident advocate through their first sergeant or through the housing office.