U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement after the Department of the Army Inspector General released an assessment of the Army’s privatized housing program:
“We’ve been clear for months: the problems plaguing military privatized housing are unacceptable. From the first hearing about the conditions within the program, it was clear that serious changes need to be made to create accountability within the military services and chain of command. Most of the services saw this and took it seriously. At the same time as the Senate Armed Services Committee began convening hearings to hold military leaders and privatized housing partners accountable, the Army began this important review to take stock in how its privatized housing programs are serving our troops and their families—and we’re glad they did.
“What the report found underscores the concerns we’ve identified: a lack of oversight, poor management by the housing partners and other issues that left military families without the quality of service they deserve. We are pleased to see the recommendations of this report line up with many of the provisions in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act, including creating a Tenant Bill of Rights, clarifying and re-engaging the chain of command, empowering military families to seek recourse without retribution, and addressing transparency and accountability on the part of the housing companies. We will continue to fight to make sure these recommendations are addressed in final defense authorization legislation, and the Committee will continue stringent oversight moving forward to make sure these changes are implemented as quickly as possible.
“We commend those who have stepped forward to expose the extent of these problems and the members of the military who are doing their best to make this right.”
Background: Inhofe and Reed, as the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have been leading voices against allegations of substandard service provided by housing partners within the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. The Senate Armed Services Committee has held numerous hearings to shed light on the situation, including the only full committee hearing on the topic.
Title XXX of the Inhofe/Reed-led National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020 (S. 1790) contains more than 30 new provisions making extensive reforms to the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. These provisions are designed to improve quality of life for service members and their families, instate new quality control measures and health and hazard standards, and strengthen management within the military chain of command and the housing companies themselves. The bill passed the Senate on a wide bipartisan basis of 86-8.
In an op-ed in Stars and Stripes, Inhofe and Reed reiterated their commitment to fixing the broke military housing system.