Survey: widespread unhappiness with some military housing

Military housing complaints - Katie Benoit report

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWNY) - Almost half of the people living in military housing on Fort Drum reported maintenance and repair issues, in a survey released Wednesday.

The Military Family Advisory Network released a survey of people living in privatized housing in 160 U.S. military bases. The report shows widespread dissatisfaction with private housing on military posts.. The survey is a comprehensive look at what military personnel and their families experience with on-post housing.

"These families are not asking for luxury, they're not asking for a whole lot. They're asking for what they're paying for with their basic allowance for housing. They want a safe home for their families," said Shelley Kimball, senior research director for the Military Family Advisory Network.

The survey followed reports of issues earlier this year and town hall-style meetings, including at Fort Drum.

Forty-five percent of those on Fort Drum who responded to the survey reported maintenance and repair issues.

Forty-one percent reported mold problems, 35 percent complained about filth, and 31 percent had concerns of the structural integrity of the housing.

Almost a quarter reported plumbing problems and slightly fewer complained about poor quality building materials.

On-post housing is managed by Mountain Community Homes. Mountain Community Homes did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

Fort Drum has added three additional full time employees to its housing office to address concerns, as well as mandatory inspections and a 24/7 complaint hotline, according to Julie Halpin, director of Fort Drum Public Afffairs.

Of the nearly 17,000 people who responded military-wide, more than 13,000 currently live in military housing and another 2,500 had lived in military housing in the previous three years.

The survey was prompted after military families testified about housing conditions before a congressional panel in February.

Overall, Reuters reported, ratings for Fort Drum were only slightly more negative than positive, with 50 negative ratings, 48 positive ones and 55 neutral.

But Kimball made the point that "neutral" did not mean "no problems."

"When you look at the scale of neutral, it still contains those issues like maintenance, mold, structural integrity," she said.

Wednesday's report concludes the burdens caused by poor housing may - quote - "last long after the final home is repaired, the last pest evicted, and the final mold spore is eradicated."

The conclusion is all too obvious to Kimball.

"I was heartbroken. I'm part of a military family myself," she said. "My father served, my brother served, my husband served. It was really hard to read these responses and to know there are are families out there that need help still."

A Department of Defense official told Reuters that the DoD remains “confident that privatizing housing was the right thing to do."

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