The Military Housing Roundtable (MHR) held its third quarter meeting of the year on August 9, 2023. Here are the takeaways:
The defense policy team for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) shared congressional efforts to improve oversight and accountability of military housing, the Senator’s role as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA updates, and more.
Senator Warren has worked to address some of the shortcomings of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) Tenant Bill of Rights (TBOR), homing in on three focus areas:
- Lack of ability to compel compliance: Looking to strengthen DoD toolkit to enhance restriction of the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to MHPI companies who do not comply with TBOR and enhanced reporting on compliance.
- Retaliation against spouses: Update TBOR language to include spouses in protections from retaliation (changing language from “member” to “tenant”). Office of the Inspector General to investigate claims of retaliation.
- Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs): NDAs can be restrictive and exploitative. Require that tenants choose to request NDA, and make tenants aware of the consequences of signing.
The Military Housing Readiness Council Act was reintroduced in June 2023 by Senators Warren, Shaheen, and Hirono and Representatives Jacobs and Bice. The proposed legislation would provide a platform for oversight and accountability of privatized military housing to give military families a voice and bring together experts to ensure military families have safe housing.
DoD Military housing
A senior housing analyst from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Housing) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations, and Environment) provided a status update on the Military Housing Privatization Initiative Tenant Bill of Rights and other reforms.
- The Fiscal Year 2024 budget allocates $1.9B to fund military housing updates and housing referral services for off-base housing, as well as $469M for unaccompanied housing
- DoD is engaging with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on oversight of its privatized housing program and unaccompanied housing review. The Department is working to fully implement updates through NDAA.
Tenant Bill of Rights:
- As of the date of the meeting, the Tenant Bill of Rights are fully available at all but three Air Force installations: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (AK), Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (NJ), and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (OH).
- The remaining rights that have not been implemented at these installations are “Right to Dispute Resolution” and “Rent Segregation.”
- View the MHPI Tenant Bill of Rights here.
- DoD is working on a complaints database (eMH) and hope to have it fully functional by 2025.
- Inspections requirements are underway. About 40% are complete with a goal to be 100% complete by the end of 2024.
- Leadership is actively participating in conversations to anticipate needs — communicating directly with service members, families, MSO/VSO groups, and working with House Armed Services Committee’s Quality of Life Panel.
Funded by Wells Fargo, the Military Housing Roundtable convenes housing leaders and advocates and builds on best practices to develop and recommend policy and programmatic solutions. The MHR currently consists of more than 40 public and private organizations with a vested interest in ensuring affordable, equitable, and safe housing for military and veteran families.
To learn more, recommend a discussion topic, or submit a presentation request, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.