Complaints have been growing about the dire condition of homes on US military bases, following an investigation last year by Reuters that highlighted issues such as lead poisoning, mold and poor construction.
In a follow up report, NBC News says that few improvements have been made, but that the number of complaints has increased and that these are now gaining attention from lawmakers.
NBC News reported that the Military Family Advisory Network conducted a survey of more than 16,000 military personnel, and found that 55 percent of respondents had a “negative” or “very negative” experience with privatized military housing.
Some of the complaints related to black mold, lead paint, and asbestos. Others said they were suffering from “chronic illnesses” due to the poor conditions of their homes. A petition created last October to draw attention to their plight has garnered over 3,000 signatures, NBC reported.
“We let down some of our residents,” said 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.”
Picerne later 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.
In response to the deluge of complaints, the Senate is planning to introduce legislation that would ensure tougher oversight of military landlords. The Department of Defense has also proposed a new “tenant bill of rights” that would see privatized housing companies are held accountable for the quality of the homes they provide. The bill would also give local military leaders more oversight authority, NBC said.
“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 US military first began offering privatized housing in the 1990s. Private firms now provide the vast majority of homes to approximately 700,000 soldiers and their families who live on military bases in the US.