U.S. Sen. Warren introduces military housing bill to boost inspections, transparency




that offers new protection for U.S. military families facing unsafe housing, following  series of Reuters

reports revealing squalid conditions in privately-managed base homes.

The Reuters reports and later Congressional hearings detailed widespread hazards,

including lead paint exposure, vermin infestations, collapsing ceilings, mold and maintenance lapses in

privatised base housing communities that serve some 700,000 U.S. military family members.

The Massachusetts Democrat’s bill would mandate both regular and unannounced spot inspections

of base homes by certified, independent inspectors, holding landlords accountable for quickly fixing hazards.

The military’s privatisation programmes for years allowed real estate firms to operate base housing with

scant oversight, Reuters found, leaving some tenants in unsafe homes with little recourse against landlords.

The bill would also require the Department of Defence and its private housing operators to publish

reports annually detailing housing conditions, tenant complaints, maintenance response times and

the financial incentives companies receive at each base.

The provisions aim to enhance transparency of housing deals whose finances and operations the military

had allowed to remain largely confidential under a privatisation programmes since the late 1990s.

The measure would also require private landlords to cover moving costs for at-risk families, and healthcare

costs for people with medical conditions resulting from unsafe base housing, ensuring they receive continuing

coverage even after they leave the homes or the military.

“This bill will eliminate the kind of corner-cutting and neglect the Defence Department should never have

let these private housing partners get away with in the first place,” Warren said in a statement Friday.

The proposed legislation comes after February Senate hearings where Warren, a member of the Senate

Armed Services Committee who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, slammed private real estate firms.

He slammed them for endangering service families, and sought answers about why military branches weren’t providing more oversight.

Her legislation would direct the Defence Department to allow local housing code enforcers onto federal bases, following concerns they were sometimes denied access.

Warren’s office said a companion bill in the House of Representatives would be introduced by Rep. Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico.

In response to the housing crisis, military branches are developing a tenant bill of rights and hiring hundreds of new housing staff.

The branches recently dispatched commanders to survey base housing worldwide for safety hazards, resulting in thousands of work orders and hundreds of tenants being moved.

The Defence Department has pledged to renegotiate its 50-year contracts with private real estate firms.

Congress has been quick to take its own measures.

Earlier legislation proposed by senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California, along with Mark Warner

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