It’s been exactly one year since MFAN shared the results of the 2019 Privatized Military Housing Survey with Congress. Since the first Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on February 12, 2019, we’ve shared what we’ve learned widely, we’ve met with the Department of Defense, with several of the Services, with GAO, with nonprofit and business entities who are committed to rallying together to fix this because we all know one thing for certain: military families deserve a safe place to live, raise their families, and call home.
Yesterday, MFAN hosted the first Military Housing Roundtable. We were joined by Senator Warner and Senator Tillis, an overt demonstration of the bipartisan support this issue has, as well as leaders from the Department of Defense, Services, advocates, military and veteran service organizations, as well as organizations that focus on environmental standards, equitable housing, supporting military families through moves, and more.
This convening isn’t about rehashing what we already know, it is about working toward solutions, learning from each other, and meaningful collaboration. Ultimately, military families don’t care who creates the solution; they just want these issues fixed. In 2019 we heard from nearly 17,000 military families who live in privatized military housing, it is important to remember that while these issues are addressed, we can’t forget the 70 percent of military families who don’t live in military housing, who live on the economy and in communities. This roundtable seeks to serve all military families regardless of where they choose to live.
Today, we are sharing some key topics discussed and takeaways from the meeting:
- It is important to understand why military families choose to live where they live. MFAN shared preliminary data from the 2019 Military Family Support Programming Survey, which showed why military families chose privatized housing or living on the economy. Because this has been a consistent question MFAN has asked, we were able to compare and contrast what we learned from families in 2014, 2017, and 2019. MFAN looks forward to sharing those findings and much more widely this spring.
- The tenant bill of rights is still in the works. I asked the Department of Defense for an update on the tenant bill of rights. MFAN appreciates that this is a complex issue, but it is paramount for accountability. We were assured that the tenant bill of rights is coming soon.
- There are so many things we can learn from each other. As everyone went around the room, introducing themselves, I was overwhelmed by the talent and expertise represented. People traveled to attend this meeting because it matters, it is important, and people are committed to making a positive impact through collaboration. It was heartening and inspiring.
- Military families need consistent, easy to understand information they can trust. This is the first assignment for our group. We recognized that there is a lot of information circulating from many sources. Next, the roundtable participants will break into committees to create consistent information that will be compiled into one source for families. This will be designed to help families understand processes, what they are entitled to (in military housing and on the economy), what they need to know about environmental challenges, and when needed, how to advocate for themselves.
I left the meeting yesterday inspired. The amount of goodwill— most clearly demonstrated by our partners and sponsors at Wells Fargo— in the room was overwhelming. This group will meet quarterly, and we are committed to impact that military families can see and feel. We are all honored to do this work. On behalf of the entire MFAN team, thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to join us. Let’s do this!