Navy family crammed into RV after forced out of base housing

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MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - A Navy wife says she was forced out of her home because the house her family was living in on Tinker Air Force Base was filled with mold.

Now her family of 5 is living in a 250 square foot trailer and taking legal action.

"What you see- this is it. There is a bedroom and a bathroom and that`s it," Rachel Cole told News 4.

Cole's family now lives in an RV in Midwest City after her family moved out of base housing.

Cole's husband was transferred to Tinker in August of 2017. That's when they moved into one of the rentals built and operated by private contractor Balfour Beaty.

"It was problems from day one the house was a wreck it was a disaster."

Rachel says there were holes in the siding and walls, burns in the carpet.

"There was mold in our shower in the linen closets in the kitchen cupboards under the bathroom sinks."

It was that mold that the coles say they pressed work crews to fix.

"They had never fixed that issue properly...we had an entire year of problems, flooding mice earwigs, the mold issues..."

After living in the house for a full year, the Coles decided to move out.

As they were moving into their RV, they were sent a bill for thousands of dollars for things like carpet replacement, painting, and satellite dish removal.

"They tried to charge us for things that they never did," said Cole

When she tried to contest the charges, Cole says the people from Balfour Beatty wouldn't talk to them, instead, sending the claim straight to a collection agency.

"It caused us a lot of stress when someone just says 'you owe us almost 4 thousand dollars and we're not going to talk to you about it we are not going to communicate just here is a bill,'" Cole told News 4.

We reached out to Tinker Air Force Base and they sent us the following statement:

"Tinker Air Force Base is aware of the housing situation, which remains unacceptable for our Airmen and their families until we reach zero health and safety discrepancies.  We continue to work directly with the privatized housing management company to aggressively drive the health and safety issues to zero…and keep them there.  The health and safety of our Airmen and their families is top priority, and we are committed to attaining enduring solutions today and over the long term.”

According to a recent Reuters article, a former Balfour manager says that he "doctored work-order information at the direction of his superiors and pressured staff to close out unfinished work orders."

Back in May, Tinker officials made it clear that fixing the housing issue was on their radar.

"We are attacking this in a prioritized fashion," Col. Kenyon Bell told News 4.

For Cole, she says they have one more year before her husband assignment is up.

"We have a house, we have a roof over our heads, we got beds- that`s all we can ask for at this point until things are solved through the courts," said Cole.

News 4 also reached out to Balfour Beatty and they responded with the following:

"We are aware of the formal complaint filed by the Coles, and are actively defending against all claims. Because this is pending litigation, we are unable to provide further comment at this time.
The well-being of service members and their families living in our communities is our top priority. We are committed to the continuous improvement of our military housing communities, including at Tinker AFB, and have focused on delivering new tools and expanded resources designed to ensure we are providing the highest quality living experience."

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