Better Military Housing: Where We Stand, and What’s Next

Better Military Housing: Where We Stand, and What’s Next
Housing inspectors at Fort Benning, Ga., carry out a quality assurance inspection of a home in the Patton Village housing area. (Photo by Patrick Albright/Army)

Last year, MOAA fought to include important provisions in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to improve the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) and reduce environmental and safety hazards for tenants in these homes. But MOAA has not stopped there.

 

We continue to engage with DoD and Congress to ensure all provisions are implemented in a timely manner and according to the intent of Congress.

 

The Tenant Bill of Rights was expected to be fully rolled out May 1, but logistical issues forced DoD to delay full implementation. On June 1, DoD released a public memo announcing the implementation of the first 14 of 18 tenant rights available to all military housing tenants. DoD is still working with stakeholders to implement the last four rights — a common lease, a dispute resolution process, the ability to withhold rent during disputes, and the provision of a seven-year maintenance history of the home to tenants.

 

[RELATED: More Military Family Resources From MOAA]

 

When pushed by military service organizations, DoD declined to provide a concrete timeline for full implementation of all 18 rights and the other 50-plus provisions related to military housing.  Senior military officials seemed to share in the frustration and impatience for the lagging timeline, citing the need to obtain full agreement from stakeholders such as lawyers, housing companies, and other financial investors to implement pending provisions.

 

Disputes Over Dispute Resolution Process

Senior military officials also raised concerns that lawyers may block a way forward on the dispute resolution process as currently defined in the FY 20 NDAA. MOAA is extremely concerned that outside stakeholders may prevent this process from being fully implemented.

 

A dispute resolution process is essential to providing tenants with a means to escalate and adjudicate issues with their landlord. Without this process, tenants may not have adequate recourse to address these disputes.

 

DoD officials emphasized they are required to provide a report to Congress of any housing companies that are not in agreement with the FY20 NDAA provisions. Any attempts by housing companies to impede implementation is a disservice to military families.

 

What Other Progress Has Been Made?

While many provisions are still in process, DoD, the military services, and housing companies have executed other improvements, such as increasing housing staff, adopting technology such as apps and website improvements, changing incentive fee structures, and renewing training for staff and installation leadership.

 

In March, the Senate confirmed DoD’s newest Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment and Chief Housing Officer, Jordan Gillis. A former Army officer, Gillis most recently served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy, Installations, and Environment. MOAA remains committed to seeing implementation of the full comprehensive military housing reform set forth by Congress.

 

Are you facing challenges with your military housing situation, or having trouble making these reforms work for you in your dispute-resolution process? Contact MOAA at legis@moaa.org; your feedback on these issues helps set our advocacy agenda and provides the on-the-ground intel we need to address problems affecting military families worldwide.

 

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About the Author

Eryn Wagnon
Eryn Wagnon

Eryn Wagnon came to MOAA in May 2018 as a military spouse fellow sponsored by the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. She joined the MOAA staff permanently in July 2018 as director, military family policy and spouse programs.