Military pushes Congress for legislation protecting families in on-base housing

Elizabeth Howe
February 19, 2019 - 11:40 am

Photo courtesy of Scott Sturkol

After last week's Senate hearing on the poor conditions in privately managed military housing, the military is pushing Congress to put legislation in place to protect the military families living in those homes.

A survey recently released by the nonpartisan Military Family Advisory Network showed just how bleak living on base can be. More than 16,000 tenants of on-base housing responded — and over half of them said they had a "negative" or "very negative" opinion of their housing situation. Stories of mold, lead, and rat infestations quickly emerged. The same day, Congress heard testimony from military spouses on specific concerning issues. 

RELATED: Congress probes ‘disgusting’ living conditions in military housing

Now, the Air Force, Navy, and Army are working together to push a bill of rights that would strengthen the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act — a law that includes active duty housing protections. 

The bill would allow families the power to withhold rent or break leases to get out of unsafe living conditions — something that, according to testimony, is very difficult to do without fear of retaliation. 

RELATED: The poor conditions of privately managed military housing are affecting military readiness

"Clearly there are areas where we have issues," Chief of Staff David Goldfein said in a Pentagon interview. 

In addition to the efforts to push legislation, both the Air Force and the Army have mandated inspections of all privatized family housing units — and all branches have been urged to review how they respond to housing complaints. Current contracts with private real estate companies are under review. 

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