News   Reform

Service Leaders Testify on Efforts to Improve Privatized Housing

Dec. 3, 2019 | BY David Vergun , DOD News
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Service secretaries and chiefs testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today about efforts to improve privatized housing.

Witnesses testify at a hearing.
Senate Hearing
Top civilian and military leaders from all four services testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on reports of substandard housing conditions and services, Dec. 3, 2019.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 191203-O-ZZ999-001

Army Progress

Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy said the Army is committed to providing safe, quality and affordable housing to all of its personnel and their families. "It is our responsibility to provide housing not simply to code, but also to quality."

Suburban street scene.
McCoy Housing
Privatized, on-post military housing is shown at Fort McCoy, Wisc., June 4, 2019.
Photo By: Scott Sturkol, Army
VIRIN: 190604-A-OK556-142

Steps taken, he said, include:

  •  Installation commander-driven town hall meetings
  • 24-hour helplines to hear feedback from families affected
  • Creating transparency of the work order process
  • Developed new incentive fee metrics to measure work order response times, repair quality and resident satisfaction
  • Assigned housing operations to a four-star commander who can withhold incentive fees from privatized housing providers, if necessary, based on the incentive fee metrics
  • A tri-service resident bill of rights is being finalized to give residents an active voice and avenues for recourse
  • Designated $1.1 billion in barracks sustainment this fiscal year, pending passage of the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill

Navy Progress

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said no sailor, Marine, civil servant or their families should ever have to contend with chronic maintenance issues such as mold and pests. "This is commander's business, and we are committed to empowering our leaders to assess, monitor and remediate issues of concern. ... We can never rest in our determination to provide safe, secure and comfortable housing for all sailors, Marines and sea service families."

Inspectors inspect home.
House Inspection
Housing inspectors conduct a quality assurance inspection of a home in the Patton Village housing area of Fort Benning, Ga., Nov. 21, 2019.
Photo By: Patrick Albright, Army
VIRIN: 191122-A-YH902-061

The Navy, he said, has taken a three-pronged approach:

  • Reestablishing active and engaged leaders on this issue
  • Reinforcing Navy oversight
  • Improving partnerships with privatized housing owners to help restore resident trust

Air Force Progress

Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett said, "Our ability to provide safe and habitable housing for airmen is a key part of their quality of life, strengthening our efforts to recruit and retain the people we need to lead the most powerful air, space and cyber force on the planet."

Suburban street scene.
Kirtland Housing
Privatized, on-post military housing is shown at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., April 11, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Alexandria Crawford
VIRIN: 190411-F-ET712-398

Among the many steps being taken, she said, are:

  • Implementing new systems to better identify and quickly resolve issues
  • Conducting a thorough review of the Military Housing Privatization Program and identifying 35 recommended improvement areas
  • Establishing a 24/7 toll-free call center to resolve issues
  • Enabling work orders to be submitted electronically so residents can track progress
  • Emphasizing local commander responsibility in taking ownership of housing matters 

Also testifying was Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville, Naval Operations Chief Adm. Michael M. Gilday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.