Complaints about the condition of homes on military bases – including lead poisoning, mold and poor construction – have grown worse since problems were first revealed in a Reuters investigation last August. On Friday, NBC News did a follow-up looking at any improvements but found that the number of complaints by military families has increased. The issue is now getting the attention of lawmakers.
In a survey conducted by the Military Family Advisory Network, 55 percent of 16,000 respondents reported a “negative” or “very negative” experience with privatized military housing. Respondents reported instances of black mold, lead paint and asbestos, and some said they were facing “chronic illnesses,” such as respiratory ailments, due to housing conditions. A petition to draw attention to such complaints that circulated last October garnered more than 3,000 signatures.
“We let down some of our residents,” says John Picerne, founder and CEO of Corvias, a private company that runs military housing, at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month. “I am sorry, and we are going to fix it.”
He told NBC News that Corvias was working on a backlog of work orders and will improve its response time to service requests. The company also said it was hiring a consulting firm to review its mold and mildew procedures.
The Senate is now introducing legislation to require tougher oversight of private landlords. And the Department of Defense proposed a new tenant bill of rights intended to increase the accountability of privatized housing companies and give local military leaders more oversight authority.
“We have been deeply troubled by the deficient housing conditions,” Col. Kyle Reed said in a written statement to NBC News. “Corvias’ performance has been poor and inadequate up to this point. However, we are seeing improvements daily.”
The military began privatizing its housing in the 1990s. About 30 percent of military families live on military bases. The majority of housing located on bases – which serves about 700,000 service members and their families – is operated by private contractors.
Source: “Military Families Say Housing on Bases Has Lead, Mold, Other Problems,” NBC News (March 8, 2019)
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