MIDWEST CITY - Some Residents of Tinker Airforce Base housing have been speaking out for years about deplorable housing conditions that aren't being fixed. On Tuesday, officials spoke out on the issue publicly.
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhoff (R) is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. When allegations of deplorable living conditions at Tinker base housing started surfacing years ago, Inhoffe took the lead looking into Balfour Beatty, the private contractor and management company that built and operates the homes.
"Quite frankly I thought this was a problem that was unique to Tinker. I didn't know, and I chair the committee. So we had a hearing and we talked about it, then I concluded that, no, this something that is all over Oklahoma. Then we find out its all over America," Inhofe said.
"Our overarching concern is the health and safety of our airmen and their families," said Matt Donovan, acting secretary of the Air Force.
Inhofe and Donovan said they were aware of the mold issues, but now there are new asbestos and firewall problems that are occurring in Tinker homes. They say they have put Balfour Beatty on 90-day notice to fix all the problems or others will be brought to do the work. But some say officials are not doing enough to fix whats wrong with base housing.
"These families are being displaced for weeks, sometimes months… it's awful with little children," said for Tinker housing resident Janna Driver.
Driver says she, her Air Force husband and twin four year olds suffered health problems and were forced to move multiple times when their base house flooded and black mold was found all over the home. She filed a law suit. Driver also testified against Balfour Beatty in Washington, D.C. back in February.
"I get that they are being investigated, but it's just not happening fast enough and our military families are suffering tremendously because of it," Driver said.
Driver is not alone in her concerns about Tinker Housing.
"A lot is wrong and few things right with our home," she said.
Rachel Cole and her family also had problems with mold and pests as well in their base home. She said when Balfour Beatty wouldn’t work with them to fix the problems properly a year ago, they moved into a mobile home close to base. They have also filed suit. She hopes that Tuesday’s visit by Inhofe will make a difference.
"Fingers crossed again that more gets done for the families because not a lot has been done," Cole said.
We reached out to the private property management company for comment, and they sent the following statement:
“Balfour Beatty Communities is pleased to have the opportunity for a meaningful dialogue with the Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Matt Donovan, and Senator Inhofe. We are committed to learning from our mistakes and determined to do the best job possible for our residents.”