Armed Forces News

Service members who live in substandard privatized housing will see improvements, the civilian and military leaders of the four armed services told a panel of lawmakers.

“The Navy and Marine Corps are comprehensively reviewing the business systems, reporting mechanism and oversight procedures governing the way housing maintenance issues re reported, remediated and verified in private housing,” Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a March 9 hearing.

Army Secretary Mark Esper told the panel that while the introduction to privatized housing was a success when it was introduced in 1998, an insufficient oversight process led to the system’s deterioration. The service is meeting with the companies that manage subsidized housing, relieving residents of certain monthly financial obligations, and addressing oversight shortfalls, Esper told the panel. Army Times reported that Esper told the panel the service no longer will require residents to pay monthly utilities.

Outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson cited reviews conducted by wing commanders and service leadership, which showed that there is “an inability to do adequate quality assurance on maintenance crews.” She also said that housing management offices are too small and lack authority, and airmen do not understand their rights and responsibilities. Additionally, owner incentive fees are not having the desired qualitative results, and poor construction has contributed to “persistent mold issues.”

The secretaries were accompanied at the hearing by the respective service chiefs: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.