MFAN Research: Privatized Military Housing Survey Executive Summary

February 13, 2019

The mission of the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) is to connect military families with leaders and decision makers. We share the stories of those who serve and respond to their needs through collaboration and, when needed, program development. After hearing from military families about issues with privatized military housing last October, MFAN began researching the extent of the problem and launched a questionnaire three months later to gain a better understanding of the issue. This executive summary provides a high-level overview of our initial findings from the questionnaire. A full report that outlines methodology, more detailed preliminary findings, family profiles, photos, and documentation can be found here.

The online questionnaire was fielded on January 30, 2019 and remained open until February 6, 2019. During that time, 16,779 individuals responded. Participants were first asked a series of questions to determine eligibility to fit the targeted demographic. They were required to either be living in privatized military housing currently, or within the past three years. The remaining questions were also neutral in nature, inquiring whether the military family’s experience with privatized housing was favorable or not favorable.

MFAN also conducted 40 interviews with survey participants who shared their contact information. Over the next several months, MFAN will apply qualitative coding methods to gain a complete understanding of families’ perceptions of privatized military housing. In the interim, initial findings show the following:

  • More than half (55.53%) of respondents had a negative or very negative experience with privatized military housing.
  • Issues are not unique to specific companies, 35 companies were referenced by respondents from every state in the country with privatized military housing.
  • Military families are living in dangerous situations with reports of the existence of black mold, lead paint, faulty wiring, poor water quality, pesticides, and a wide variety of vermin, insects, and other animals (e.g., bats, skunks, and squirrels) in their homes.
  • Families report illnesses with life-long implications caused by poor housing conditions.
  • Respondents file reports and request remediation, which is often denied or ignored.
  • Families report attempts by housing company representatives and sometimes, military command to silence their complaints and several report receiving threats. Many fear retribution or negative impacts on their service members’ military career.
  • Families have little or no recourse. Rent cannot be withheld for poor condition, mismanagement, or noncompliance with lease terms.

The sheer number of questionnaire respondents is astounding. While 44.7% of respondents responded neutrally or favorably, 55.53% dissatisfaction rate is alarming. As we continue our qualitative analysis, we will learn much more about their experiences and identify geographic “hot spots” for issue areas.

Through our preliminary research it has become apparent that there is a disconnect between our findings related to resident satisfaction and what has been reported by privatized housing companies.

MFAN recommends that the Department of Defense (DoD) collaborate with nonprofit NFEs (“non-federal entities”) who support military families, such as the Military Family Advisory Network, in support of metrics-based, performance-tied initiatives to gain a more authentic understanding of the military family experience for better-informed and utilized services and programs.

Read the full report here.