The following is a media release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. She was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. She is a Democrat.
Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, sent letters to top executives at six major private military housing companies requesting information about the on-base housing units they developed and manage to determine whether military families are being denied access to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant housing.
In July 2020, the Military Housing Advocacy Network (MHAN), a nonprofit organization that advocates for military families to make sure that they have access to safe and appropriate conditions in on-base, privatized housing, released findings from a survey of military families with disabilities revealing that private military housing companies that have partnered with the Department of Defense (DoD) do not appear to be following federal laws that protect persons with disabilities.
“These findings paint a clear and troubling picture of housing problems for thousands of servicemembers and their families and are yet another example of how private military housing companies are padding their pockets with profits at the expense of our women and men in uniform. Our military families should have access to safe, accessible, high-quality housing and deserve better than this,” Senator Warren said in a statement shared with her letters.
The DoD’s Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) provides 137,000 military families with special needs with necessary services and support throughout the United States and at DoD installations worldwide, including access to ADA housing and/or reasonable accommodations to the home for disabled persons. A survey of these families by MHAN revealed that they faced significant barriers to acquiring their housing;some never received these homes or accommodations, and many waited exceptionally long periods of time before their needs were approved or met. Some said their requests for accommodations were challenged by housing management.
In order to better understand why EFMP military families are not receiving ADA-compliant homes or reasonable accommodations, Senators Warren and Tillis have requested answers to their questions no later than January 15, 2021.
This letter builds on Senator Warren’s investigative and legislative oversight of private housing providers in the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI). Last year, Senator Warren released findings from her three-month-long investigation of MHPI and of the five private companies that have contracts with the DoD revealing how and why private military housing developers have failed to meet basic housing standards, which in some cases, resulted in severe health problems for military families.
In response to her findings, Senator Warren introduced the Military Housing Oversight and Service Member Protection Act, which seeks to provide solutions to substandard military housing and empower service members and their families by:
1) requiring the DoD to establish guidance for how it enters and renews housing contracts and standardizes all lease agreements it signs;
2) guaranteeing medical care for affected service members and their families;
3) establishing tenant protections that give service members and families a stronger voice in dealing with private housing companies;
4) creating a new complaint database accessible to all tenants; and
5) requiring the disclosure of contracts and financial statements from each housing provider.