OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A Congresswoman from Oklahoma led a bipartisan coalition to introduce stronger protections for military families renting on-base housing from private contractors.
Congresswoman Kendra Horn introduced the Military Housing Oversight, Maintenance, and Enhancement for Servicemembers Act.
Officials say the bill creates uniform basic housing standards and inspection requirements for all government-owned and controlled military family housing.
The Military HOMES Act also provides reimbursement for military families who lost property due to mold damage, transparency in performance incentive fees for housing contractors, and a dedicated housing liaison to help military families navigate on-base housing problems.
“The Military HOMES Act is a part of our ongoing fight for service members and military families at Tinker and across the country,” said Congresswoman Horn. “Military families have experienced unsafe and unhealthy housing conditions at privatized on-base in Oklahoma and nationwide. This blatant disregard for service members and families who have put everything on the line for our country is unconscionable,” Congresswoman Horn said. “Last year, I was proud to pass the Tenants Bill of Rights as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill takes the next step by providing additional protections for service members and increasing transparency in military housing.”
In 2019, KFOR reported on a family who was forced out of their home at Tinker Air Force Base due to mold.
“There was mold in our shower in the linen closets in the kitchen cupboards under the bathroom sinks,” said Rachel Cole.
When KFOR reached out to Tinker Air Force Base, 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.”
“No military family should ever have to live in unsafe housing,” said Congressman Andy Kim. “Thanks to Congresswoman Horn’s leadership, this bipartisan effort will help ensure every military family can have the peace of mind of a home they can be proud of and safe in. I look forward to working with her and our colleagues to pass this bill into law.”
Late last year, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act, including a Tenants Bill of Rights to address unsafe housing conditions on military bases.
In December, the House Committee on Armed Services also held a hearing to question military housing maintenance provider Balfour Beatty about the company’s failure to maintain military housing and the bonus payments it received after falsifying maintenance documents.
Congresswoman Horn called on Balfour Beatty’s CEO to return all bonus payments the company received during years when employees falsified maintenance records.