Crist Proposal Aims to Improve Conditions in Military Housing
The bill would allow the commander of a military installation to take corrective action if a private company failed to effectively operate and maintain on-base military housing.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, introduced legislation today (Feb. 27) that would empower military base commanders to hold private companies managing on-base military housing accountable for the health and safety of service members and their families.
News reports have uncovered serious issues with privately constructed and managed on-base housing in the Tampa region, including mold infestations that are putting military families at risk. In some cases service members have left the military because of a lack of recourse.
“It’s shocking and unacceptable that our service members and their families are being trapped in living situations that put their health and safety at risk,” Crist said. “Part of the issue stems from base commanders not having the authority necessary to police bad actors, holding private companies accountable for living conditions in the on-base housing they oversee. I think we can put a stop to these situations quickly by giving commanders the authority needed to protect their people.”
Going forward, the Crist legislation would empower the commander of a military installation to take corrective action if a company fails to effectively operate and maintain a leased house, including by:
Withholding payments to housing contractors
Requiring companies to reimburse tenants for private property damaged because of inadequate housing conditions
Requiring companies to pay moving expenses of families who are forced to vacate a property because it is unlivable
For current housing contracts, the Crist legislation would allow military personnel to utilize the chain of command for reprieve from an abusive private housing landlord, officially extending whistleblower protections to protect them from any potential retribution. The current process requires military personnel to file a case with the Office of the Inspector General, which does not bring relief on individual cases, because the inspector general examines military housing on a defense department-wide basis.
“It’s pretty simple – empower local base leadership to fix the problem, and give our soldiers and their families a clear voice in the process. I can’t believe things have gotten to the point that servicemembers have had to quit the military to protect their families, but Congress has the power to put a stop to it – and we need to act without delay,” Crist said.
Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. CD 13 includes south- and mid-Pinellas County.
To view the full text of the Base Commander Housing Oversight Act, click here.
Charlie Crist | Military Housing | Tampabay News
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