After the incredible number of research responses, eye-opening testimonies, and media attention surrounding the conditions in privatized housing at some military installations, we are seeing change happen. We have three updates about privatized military housing that you need to know.
First, DoD wants your input on the Tenant Bill of Rights! If you live in privatized housing currently, you may have received a survey. This is your opportunity to ensure the Tenant Bill of Rights protects your interests. Unsure where to begin? A draft was released in March, so take a look and see if anything is missing or needs revision. Residents who have not received a survey or need technical assistance can contact BillofRightsFeedback@celassociates.com.
Second, CBS News and Reuters reported that the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations is investigating whether Balfour Beatty, one of the privatized military housing companies, misled the Air Force as it collected millions of dollars in incentive fees. In its investigation, Reuters found 65 instances of Balfour Beatty employees “backdating repair requests, filing false exemptions or closing unfinished jobs.” The news report showed that Balfour Beatty had two sets of maintenance records at Tinker Air Force Base. The investigation is also ongoing at Travis Air Force Base in California and Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State for similar record-keeping practices. CBS News and Reuters report on the full story in this video clip and this article.
Third, the Senate Armed Services Committee recently introduced its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. One of the largest sections, Title 30, is dedicated to military housing privatization reform. It is important to understand that the NDAA for FY 2020 still has several steps to go through before it becomes law, so the final version may change. But, rest assured, military housing privatization reform will happen! Read on for an inside view into the Top 10 potential changes in 2020 that could affect those who live in privatized military housing.
- A “Tenant Bill of Rights” would be required and attached to each lease agreement.
- A universal lease agreement would be created to ensure standardized documentation and forms.
- A uniform code of basic housing standards would be established, as well as a plan for conducting home inspections and assessments of each privatized military housing unit. **Note – the home inspectors would not be affiliated with the federal government or the privatized military housing management companies**
- Each privatized housing management company would be required to provide access to the maintenance work order system and develop an electronic system so tenants can track the status and progress of repair requests.
- A dispute resolution process would be established that would allow for requests to withhold Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payments.
- The Resident Energy Conservation Program would be suspended and could potentially be terminated completely.
- Privatized military housing management companies would be required to provide prospective tenants with historical maintenance information for the previous ten years.
- Call centers outside of the United States for the purposes of managing tenants’ maintenance calls would be prohibited.
- Two uniform checklists would be required:
- One for tenants of privatized military housing to ensure consistency throughout the Department of Defense for the move-out process
- One for the housing management office to validate the completion of all maintenance work related to health and safety issues in privatized military housing units
- **Note – health and safety issues must be reported to the installation commander**
- Tenants would be contacted by installation housing management office personnel regarding their satisfaction with the housing unit at 15 days after move-in and 60 days after move-in.
The Military Family Advisory Network was grateful that 16,779 research participants wanted to share their stories about living in housing with us. We know that those voices made a difference, and participants’ experiences shaped the changes on the horizon.
If you want to know more about what survey respondents said about housing on your military installation, see the full report here. All of us at the MFAN hope that by quantifying the issues in privatized housing, we have helped to pave the way toward restoration of homes and families’ trust in housing companies and those responsible for oversight.