The Defense Department is working to improve its military housing privatization initiative, or MHPI.
Patricia Coury, deputy assistant secretary of defense for housing, testified yesterday at a virtual meeting of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies hearing.
The department is resourced to provide safe, quality, well-maintained housing where military members and their families will want to live, she said.
The military services have hired more than 600 additional housing personnel to provide enhanced, quality assurance, customer care services and advocacy for residents, Coury said.
Also, the department has significantly enhanced the MHPI program and oversight of the private sector companies that own, operate and maintain privatized housing projects, she said.
DOD is focused on five program oversight areas:
- Senior leader engagement to collaborate internally and within MHPI companies on housing issues and necessary corrective actions.
- Rebuilding trust with the military families and military members.
- Providing accountability at all levels within DOD and by MHPI companies to perform oversight as originally intended at the outset of housing privatization.
- Providing transparency and communications to tenants and the department.
- Ensuring the long-term financial viability of the MHPI projects and program.
The department issued a revised MHPI tenant bill of rights on Aug. 1. That now includes all 18 rights, she said.
"Based on our work with the MHPI companies that own and operate privatized housing projects, they have voluntarily implemented these safety rights at all but five of the nearly 200 installations with privatized housing," Coury said.
While the department continues to pursue agreements with the MHPI companies at the five remaining installations, nearly 96% of the military families who reside in privatized housing have access to all 18 rights, she said.
"Our progress implementing the tenant Bill of Rights represents a foundational step in DOD's ongoing efforts to improve the MHPI program and to rebuilding trust and ensuring positive living experience for military members and their families," she said.
In addition to issuing the revised Tenant Bill of Rights, Coury said DOD has taken other actions to improve oversight. Those include:
- Implementing departmentwide quarterly programmatic reviews.
- Establishing new DOD uniform housing standard and inspection requirements.
- Working with private-sector MHPI companies to accelerate project investment to renovate or construct new housing units and improve the condition of existing privatized housing.
"Our priority going forward is to focus on implementing MHPI reforms intended to improve the safety, quality and habitability of privatized housing, while continuing our enhanced oversight of the MHPI program and projects," she said.
"The department is committed to ensuring military members and families who choose to reside in MHPI housing have safe, quality homes and a positive living experience," Coury said.