News   Reform

DOD Wants Resident Input on Housing Bill of Rights

June 14, 2019 | BY David Vergun
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Development of a bill of rights for those living in privatized Defense Department housing is underway, and DOD is seeking the input of residents, the assistant defense secretary for sustainment announced in a memo.

In the memo signed yesterday, Robert H. McMahon invited residents of privatized family and unaccompanied housing to take part in an online survey to provide feedback on a draft bill of rights aimed at identifying the basic privatized housing rights of service members and their families.

Man speaks into a microphone.
Senate Testimony
Robert H. McMahon, assistant defense secretary for sustainment testifies before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, April 9, 2019.
Photo By: Screenshot by David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190409-O-ZZ999-001A

The acting secretary of defense, in conjunction with the secretaries of the military departments, is proposing a Resident Bill of Rights as part of a continued commitment to address concerns raised about privatized housing.

As a key part of this effort, department leaders have been working to develop a Military Housing Privatization Initiative Resident Bill of Rights. Throughout the drafting process, they have engaged with Congress; military and veteran service organizations; and the housing partners to obtain their input. As they move toward a final version of the MHPI Resident Bill of Rights, department leaders are seeking feedback from service members and families who live in privatized housing through an online survey. The survey will be sent to each household by CEL & Associates, a third-party consulting firm that is administering the feedback collection, tabulation and analysis on DOD's behalf.

Girl rides bike in a neighborhood.
Base Housing
Military housing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
Photo By: Air Force Airman Shawna L. Keyes
VIRIN: 140411-F-FU646-001A

McMahon said that the department is committed to addressing the concerns of service members and their families.

"We have tremendously resilient military families," he said. "Once we recruit the individual, we retain the family, and they don't ask for a lot." He noted that most families want a safe home, access to medical care, access to good schools, and reliable movers when they have to relocate to change assignments — something that happens every 2-3 years in an average service member’s career.

People sit in a meeting.
Community Meeting
Leaders and community members participate in an installation town hall meeting for housing residents in Fort McCoy, Wisc., Feb. 28, 2019. The town hall was part of a Defense Department-wide effort to examine issues with privatized housing.
Photo By: Scott T. Sturkol, Army
VIRIN: 190228-A-OK556-035

In all cases, department leaders are committed to working with housing privatization partners to ensure any and all resident concerns are addressed in a responsive, timely and professional manner, with emphasis on expediting resolution of any concerns involving potential health or safety issues, McMahon said.

"The secretary of defense and the service secretaries and chiefs understand that family is important. We honor the sacrifice that service members and their families make to serve our nation. The department has a moral obligation to military families to provide safe and quality housing, and we take that obligation seriously," he said.

View down a street in housing area.
Military Housing
Homes at Bennett Shores East, an on-base military housing community at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., March 18, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Anderson W. Branch
VIRIN: 190318-N-KK394-0008
A man carries a box.
Marine Corps Housing
Military housing at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga.
Photo By: Art Powell, Marine Corps
VIRIN: 091022-M-0000B-005A

Service members and families who reside in privatized housing are encouraged to provide feedback on the draft resident bill of rights through the online survey (Office of Management and Budget number 0704-0553; OMB Expiration Date March 31, 2022) that will be sent to them via email — only one person per address will receive this email — but participation in the survey is completely voluntary. All respondent information will be kept confidential and will not be linked to the feedback results shared with DOD.

The survey is on a rolling release to residents, June 13-16, due to the significant number of surveys to be distributed — nearly 200,000. The survey will close on July 15. If MHPI residents have questions or need technical support, or if no member of their household received an email with a survey link by June 18, they may contact CEL & Associates Inc. by email at: Residents are asked to identify their installation and complete their street address on any emails. Feedback on the draft bill of rights must be provided through the survey, not to this email address.