FOLLOWING HIS MAJOR PUSH AT WEST POINT, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF THE ARMY’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORT ON PRIVATIZED MILITARY HOUSING CONDITIONS AT BASES LIKE WEST POINT; SENATOR SAYS REPORT IS A CRITICAL STEP IN IMPROVING HOUSING CONDITIONS FOR NATION’S HEROES & THEIR FAMILIES
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released the following statement after the Army heeded his request and expedited the release of the Inspector General Report on the shortcomings of privatized military housing at installations like West Point:
“I’m glad the Army was responsive to my request and decided to release its IG report on the shortcomings in privatized housing. I’ve been continuously urging the DoD to be more transparent and honest with military families, Congress and the American people while working to address issues plaguing privatized housing on military installations across the country. Military families now have access to a resource that will enable them to hold their leaders and housing providers accountable. Releasing this report is an important and necessary step for the Army to rebuild trust within its communities and to take the actions needed to bring all its privatized housing stock into top-flight condition,” said Senator Schumer.
Included in the IG report is a list of 20 recommendations to address the myriad of issues uncovered during the investigation. Of note, the report recommends several items pushed for by Schumer and housing advocates including that Army leaders increase housing office personnel nationwide and establish a Tenant Bill of Rights to increase oversight and accountability of privatized-housing companies.
“It’s important that Army leaders and commanders at all levels support and quickly implement the recommendations in this report. I commend Acting Secretary McCarthy’s commitment to the wellbeing of our soldiers, and his willingness to work with me and my colleagues in Congress to address the ongoing military housing crisis. I sincerely hope that the other services quickly follow suit. Nothing is more important than ensuring the health and safety of our service members and their families, especially in their own homes,” Schumer continued.
Schumer explained that earlier this July, the U.S. Air Force announced it would be withholding incentive payments to one of its privatized housing partners, Balfour Beatty Communities—the very same operator that manages housing at West Point. News reports indicate that Balfour Beatty Communities employees may have fleeced taxpayers by creating fraudulent maintenance records, showing that the company had been expediently responding to and addressing maintenance requests at a base in Oklahoma. These documents allowed the company to meet certain maintenance goals and earn a greater financial windfall from the Department of Defense, when in reality, employees were ignoring many of these requests and taking long periods of time to respond the others. Schumer explained that the Army has indicated it plans on pursuing its own investigation into similar examples of fraud at Army bases, and urged it to do so as soon as possible.
Schumer has long fought to clean up and improve privatized military housing at installations like West Point. This June, Schumer launched a push to include numerous provisions to improve military housing in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), including a tenant bill of rights, a dispute resolution process for tenants and boosted DoD oversight policies. The next month, Schumer announced his efforts had been successful, with the final Senate NDAA including all of the military housing provisions he was pushing for. Then, this August, Schumer launched a new three-pronged plan to address insufficient military housing, including calling on the Army to publicly back the Senate version of the NDAA, urging the expedited release of an Army Inspector General Report on privatized military housing conditions and requesting the Army brief Congress as quickly as possible on its plan to address the allegations of fraudulent business practices in the military’s privatized military housing. Today, with the release of the Army Inspector General report, the first prong of Schumer’s plan is complete.
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