SCHUMER REVEALS: PRIVATIZED HOUSING FOR WEST POINT FAMILIES PLAGUED BY MOLD, HAZARDS TO PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY; SENATOR LAUNCHES MAJOR EFFORT TO PASS DEFENSE BILL WITH PROVISIONS TO INTRODUCE TENANT BILL OF RIGHTS & STRENGTHEN PROTECTIONS FOR OUR NATION’S HEROES & THEIR FAMILIES
Recent News Reports Unearthed Serious Issues In West Point’s Privatized Military Housing, Spanning From Visible Mold To Clogged Gutters
Standing In Front Of West Point, Schumer Launches Major Push To Pass Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA, Which Includes Provisions To Establish Tenant’s Bill Of Rights For Privatized Military Housing, Set Up Dispute Resolution Process And More
Schumer To Congress: Our Nation’s Heroes & Their Families Deserve Better
Standing in front of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that numerous provisions to improve military housing were included in the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), and launched an effort to pass the legislation immediately. Schumer explained that in recent months, news reports have uncovered a litany of serious hazards to human health and public safety in privatized housing facilities on military bases across the country, with West Point specifically grappling with issues such as mold and failing water systems. To address these severe hazards, Schumer is pushing to pass privatized military housing provisions in the final NDAA such as a tenant bill of rights, a dispute resolution process for tenants, and boosted Department of Defense (DOD) oversight policies. Schumer explained that the men and women who risk their lives to protect the United States deserve the peace of mind of knowing that their health and well-being won’t be damaged by their housing and urged the Senate to pass the NDAA as soon as possible.
“No member of our U.S. military—the very best and most courageous in the world—should have to fear the health and well-being of their family is being harmed by the house they live in, especially the personnel at West Point, who train and teach our future leaders. The privatized housing at West Point has been infected by hazards spanning from mold to clogged gutters, and that just can’t be allowed to stand,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I’m urging Congress to pass the NDAA without any wasted time, because it contains a number of provisions and policies that will ensure a high standard of living for our military families. Our nation’s finest deserve the finest housing possible, not leaky units coated in unhealthy mold.”
At the moment, West Point has a total of 825 privatized family housing units on campus, 67 of which are vacant. Schumer explained that according to news reports, in November of this year, West Point inspected a total of 16 privatized housing units to assess the quality of its housing stock. Those news reports indicated the results of the inspection, with visible mold found in nine of the units inspected. Schumer explained that the mold could present a serious hazard to public health in the housing units, with black mold having the potential to cause respiratory disease and other ailments. Additionally, the inspection revealed the possibility of leaks and other water intrusions in 14 of the units, which could lead to the presence of more mold, and other issues like clogged gutters and standing water at the base of units. Schumer said that if the sample is representative of the campus’s entire housing stock, these hazards would be present in hundreds of units, endangering the health and well-being of their tenants.
Schumer explained that he is pushing to ensure the final NDAA includes a number of measures to ensure high-quality privatized housing options for families living on military installations. First, Schumer said, the bill authorizes $301.8 million for housing personnel. This funding would be used to hire more staff that would then conduct thorough inspections, oversight and planning of the military’s privatized housing stock. Additionally, the NDAA includes a privatized military housing tenant bill of rights. The tenant bill of rights would establish a sorely-needed dispute resolution process for families to receive help in addressing the hazards they may have in their homes. The NDAA would also establish measures that instate new quality assurance and quality control measures, including additional mandatory health and hazard inspections.