Mold, major leaks, and other mistreatment detailed in Senate’s military housing report
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released the results of its 8-month investigation into the mistreatment of military families in privatized housing on Tuesday.
The bipartisan subcommittee investigated complaints of housing hazards including mold, major leaks, and other housing hazards that were allegedly ignored by military contractor Balfour Beatty Communities.
Officials said they conducted dozens of interviews and looked at more than 11,000 pages of data regarding the company’s operations. During a hearing on Capitol Hill, lawmakers detailed the findings; continuing failures within the company, environmental hazards, and falsified records, that they said are putting the health and safety of military families at risk.
Balfour Beatty Communities houses military families on 55 installations across the country. The company pleaded guilty to major fraud following a Department of Justice investigation late last year. The company agreed to pay $65 million for lying and manipulating data from 2013 through 2019.
Subcommittee officials said the company’s poor management persisted following the Department of Justice investigation.
Since 2019, congressional investigators have been looking at housing conditions on Fort Gordon in Georgia and Fort Sheppard in Texas.
As detailed in this report released Tuesday, the subcommittee said they found a “steady stream of new complaints” where Balfour “failed to act.” They also say they uncovered management failures through falsified documents and mislabeled work orders.
Once confronted with the report during a hearing on Capitol Hill, Balfour representatives denied many of the accusations.
Richard C. Taylor, President, Facility Operations, Renovation & Construction for Balfour Beatty Communities said the company has worked to improve since 2019 and now has promising resident survey results.
Following the hearing, a Balfour Beatty Communities spokesperson provided this statement:
“We are disappointed that the PSI’s report does not accurately reflect the company’s level of commitment to its military residents and their families or acknowledge the significant steps that have been taken to address the small number of complaints that were discussed. The report, which was released before the hearing, includes multiple inaccuracies and mischaracterizations, which the company tried to correct before it was issued and will address again following the hearing. While we continually seek to improve, as an operator of 43,000 residences we are inevitably going to have to deal with challenges. The company remains focused on the safety, health and wellbeing of its residents and on providing quality homes supported by prompt and effective customer service and maintenance support.”
Rachel Christian with Armed Forces Housing Advocates said she wants the military to show Balfour Beatty Communities the door.
“The only way forward for military families to feel safe in their homes is for the contracts to be ended with Balfour Beatty,” she said.
She also noted the military housing problems stretch far beyond one single company.
The blame is twofold,” said Christian. “It is the housing companies who are choosing profits over people repeatedly, and it’s the DOD for failing to contribute to any form of oversight that would stop them from committing such heinous acts against their own service members.”
Congress is not a criminal court. Subcommittee officials said they wanted to shine a light on military housing issues.
Military members are not typically required to live in base housing.
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