The Secretary of the Army was among those meeting with nine private companies that manage housing on Fort Hood and other U.S. military installations as he and the secretaries of other branches of the military continue to work toward dealing with complaints of families living in the facilities.
During the meeting, Secretary Mark Esper was joined by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in presenting a proposed Tenant Bill of Rights that was first proposed back in March to deal with some of the issues military housing residents have been bringing up.
Changes to incentive fee agreements, the implementation of apps and online tools to improve property-management oversight and work-order processing and the creation of a privatized housing lease agreement that would be uniform across all of the services were also discussed.
“No military family should ever have to contend with chronic maintenance issues or concerns such as mold, pests and intrusion in their home,” said Spencer. “In order to fulfill our obligations to our family members and ensure the readiness of the force, we must demand excellence and responsiveness from all concerned, including our housing partners. The Tenant Bill of Rights is a much needed first step in that direction.”
The Bill of Rights is reported to be in its final stages of development and the Army and other services plan to distribute it soon to military housing residents, including those at Fort Hood, for feedback.
“Our military families deserve good housing, and when there’s a problem with a house, it should be fixed promptly and competently,” Wilson said. “We are taking immediate steps to resolve both individual and systemic issues to provide the quality housing and proactive management we envision.”
Since the last meeting of the secretaries and the executives, the privatized housing companies have developed and implemented new apps to track and process work orders, and the meeting attendees discussed their effectiveness and how they can be modified to improve communication.
“We owe it to our service members and their families to get this right,” said Esper. “This means formalizing a clear bill of rights, rewriting leasing agreements to empower residents and reworking contracts to ensure better performance from housing providers.”
Similar meetings will take place in the near future, as plans have been made to continue to conduct them on a quarterly basis.