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Spanberger Helps Lead Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Improve Private Housing for Military Families

The Legislation Would Address Substandard, Dangerous Conditions in Private Contractor-Provided Housing at U.S. Military Installations

Washington, March 14, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today helped introduce bipartisan legislation to increase accountability and oversight on private contractor-provided housing for military families.

Spanberger co-led this bill after a Reuters investigation found instances of poor living conditions in privatized military housing at bases throughout the country. To address these serious health, safety, and environmental problems, Spanberger’s bipartisan Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act would create stronger oversight mechanisms, allow the military to withhold payments to contractors until issues are resolved, and prohibit contractors from charging certain damage fees.

“The health of our military personnel and their families should never be compromised due to contractor incompetence or mismanagement. Unfortunately, reports have unearthed unacceptable living conditions in privatized military housing—including mold, water leaks, and rodent infestations,” said Spanberger. “Our bipartisan bill would hold contractors accountable, stop them from imposing unfair damage fees, and ensure they fix hazardous conditions. The safety of our military families is an issue that should transcend party affiliation, and I look forward to fighting to advance our legislation.”

The bill would also require the military to withhold incentive fees from poorly performing contractors.

The bipartisan legislation is led by U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA-49) and is also cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Katie Hill (D-CA-25), and Elaine Luria (D-VA-02).

Provisions of the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act include:

  • Basic allowance for housing: The installation commander shall withhold payment of a service member’s housing allowance until a military housing official has inspected an environmental, safety or health hazard, verified that appropriate remediation has taken place, and the service member concurs that the remediation is satisfactory. In the case that the hazard requires the service member to leave the housing unit, the housing company will pay all relocation costs. 
  • Housing costs: Ensures service members don’t have to pay a deposit, and any fee or penalty related to ending a lease early, except for normal wear and tear. The bill also requires contractors to reimburse service members for damage to their private property caused by a hazard.
  • Withholding incentive fees: Requires the U.S. Secretary of Defense to withhold incentive fees to any contractor who persistently fails to remedy hazards.
  • Common credentials: Creates standard credentials for health, safety and environmental inspectors across services, and including contractors, to ensure consistent inspection practices. 
  • Additional transparency for service members: Requires the U.S. Department of Defense to establish an electronic system so that service members can track and oversee their work orders.

The legislation was originally introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Tim Kaine (D-VA). The bill is supported by the Military Officers Association of America and the National Military Family Association.

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