Since early 2019, all the chatter has been about the horrors of privatized military housing. The mold, the falling down homes and the resulting illnesses or injuries to troops and their families.
After the Congressional hearing and promises of new “resident bill of rights” in the works, it seems that some of the focus has shifted.
What’s Happening with the Military Housing Bill of Rights
There’s been a lot of action and many promises made over the last six months.
Tenants Bill of Rights
In March, DoD officials and lawmakers promised that on-base residents would be involved in the creation of a “resident bill of rights.” This new document is meant to provide a layer of protection for tenants in privatized housing.
As of June 11, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Robert McMahon stated that he intended to deliver an initial draft to residents by June 14 at the latest. On-base residents should have received an online survey from CEL and Associates via email. One survey per household will be provided.
As of publication, all on-base households should have received their surveys. If you have not yet received yours or are having issues with it, please call the toll-free helpline at (800)-482-6431, or contact CEL & Associates, Inc. via email at BillofRightsFeedback@celassociates.com
On-Base Residents Get More Housing Rights
The new bill of rights is intended to hold privatized housing management companies more accountable. Residents across services and around the US have been aware of issues relating to poor management and maintenance for many years. Everything came to a head at February 2019’s Congressional hearings, when military spouses detailed the impact and seriousness of their concerns.
As a result of this testimony and firsthand visits to crumbling military housing, Congress and DoD leadership proposed the collaborative bill of rights in order to hold housing management companies accountable.
Tentative inclusions for the proposed bill of rights includes:
- right to withhold rent through a neutral party until concerns are addressed
- housing advocates on military installations
- right to a healthy home and community
- effective communication tools between the landlord (management company representatives), maintenance staff and tenants
- a process to handle disputes, mediation and arbitration
- protection from reprisals should tenants involve their chain of command or other military housing staff
- property maintenance that meets or exceeds industry standards, performed by a professional
“We’re moving forward in a way that will quickly enhance the experience our military members are having on installations in family housing, and we’re doing it in a way they know there are people who care. If they have an issue we’re going to be responsive and they’re going to have a voice,” McMahon said June 11 at a meeting with more than 500 representatives from military communities.
What Housing Companies are Already Doing
Military housing companies are already starting to make changes. While most management companies do not make connections between this new programs and initiatives, changes have been made following the Congressional hearings and increased scrutiny by political and DoD leaders.
- Balfour-Beatty: On May 14, Balfour-Beatty announced an upgraded resident portal to improve communication and request maintenance services. Residents can access this portal via a website or app.
- Lincoln Military Housing: On May 30, Lincoln unveiled their new app for residents. This will enable residents to request and track maintenance requests from anywhere in the world, 24/7.
- Corvias: As of April 13, Corvias had provided additional customer service and support training to employees across all 13 of their military housing communities.
- Winn: As of June 25, Winn had not announced any new customer service or support initiatives for their military communities.
- Hunt: As of June 25, Hunt has not announced any new customer service or support initiatives. However, they do already offer a 24/7 online service and maintenance portal for residents to submit requests.
Help On the Way for OCONUS, Barracks Housing
While McMahon acknowledged at the June 11 meeting that the DoD’s focus is on the privatized housing communities, they are also aware of issues concerning housing for single troops in barracks and families living overseas.
“We can’t forget about those living overseas in government housing, those living in dormitories and barracks… housing for single members, and we certainly can’t forget about those living in communities. They have rights and responsibilities as well. We have to take a broader perspective than where we are right now,” he said.
Right now, the DoD and housing management companies will be working to create and implement the tenant bill of rights stateside. Following the survey received by on-base households in June, there should be a review process before proceeding to finalizing the complete document.
As military communities roll out and implement the bill of rights in the US, the DoD will be pivoting to assist military troops living in the barracks and families living on base OCONUS.
“We’re going to do it sequentially,” he explained. “We’re focused right now on those that living in privatized housing on installations.”