Complaints About Poor Military Housing Worsen

March 11, 2019

Complaints about the condition of homes on military bases, including lead poisoning, mold, and poor construction, have grown worse since the problems were first revealed in a Reuters investigation last August. NBC News did a follow-up piece Friday looking at whether there has been any improvement but found that the number of complaints by military families has increased, now getting the attention of lawmakers.

uniformed soldier at home

© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS - Fotolia.com

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 complaintsthat circulated last October garnered more than 3,000 signatures.

“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.” 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. The Department of Defense is proposing a new tenant bill of rights that is 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.