Reps. Sara Jacobs, Stephanie Bice Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Oversight and Accountability for Safe Military Housing

Government and Politics

August 4, 2022

Representatives Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Stephanie Bice (OK-05), Katie Porter (CA-45), and Tim Ryan (OH-13) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure oversight and accountability on safe housing conditions for service members and military families. The Military Housing Readiness Council Act would create a council comprised of Department of Defense (DoD) officials, service members, military families, and military housing experts to ensure ongoing oversight of deficiencies in privatized military housing. The council’s mandate includes responsibility for full implementation of a tenants’ bill of rights, completion of the public complaint database, and public reporting on all its activities. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced the companion legislation in the Senate.

“It's unconscionable that many military homes don’t meet the most basic standard of living and put the health and safety of our servicemembers and their families at risk,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs. “Our military families sacrifice so much for our country, and the least we can do is ensure they are safe in their own homes. I’ve heard horror stories from constituents about military housing overrun with black mold that’s harmed their health and the health of their families, including their small kids. This is a problem in San Diego and all across the country that lowers military readiness and morale, and makes us all less safe. The Military Housing Readiness Council Act will help us conduct much-needed oversight and accountability of military housing and ensure that our military families have the safe housing they deserve.”

Congresswoman Stephanie Bice said, “It is our duty to support those who have bravely and selflessly dedicated their lives to protecting our nation. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Military Housing Readiness Council Act, which will provide oversight and transparency for military housing. While conditions in privatized military housing at Tinker AFB have seen improvements in recent years, there are still a range of nationwide issues that require greater oversight including the timeliness of repairs, abatement of mold, and the timely accommodation of individuals with disabilities. We must ensure our servicemembers and their families have reliable and safe housing conditions.”

The Military Housing Readiness Council Act would:

Provide Enhanced Oversight

        -Reviews and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Defense regarding policies for privatized military housing, including inspection practices, resident surveys, landlord payment of medical bills for residents of housing units that have not maintained minimum standards of habitability, and access to maintenance work order systems.

        -Monitors the Department of Defense’s compliance with and implementation of statutory improvements to policies for privatized military housing, including the Military Housing Privatization Initiative Tenant Bill of Rights and the public military housing complaint database.

Regularly Engage Stakeholders

        -Draws membership from the Department of Defense, every military service, officer and enlisted service members, spouses of officers and enlisted members, a representative of the International Code Council, a representative of the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, and other members to be selected by the chairs and ranking members of the armed services committees.

        -Requires the Council to meet no fewer than four times a year.

        -Makes additional recommendations to improve collaboration, awareness, and promotion of accurate and timely information about privatized military housing, including accommodations available through the Exceptional Family Member Program.

Provide Transparency

        -Requires annual reporting to the Secretary and the congressional defense committees on the Council’s activities, including analyses of complaints of tenants of housing units, data received on maintenance response time and completion of maintenance requests, assessments of dispute resolution processes, assessments of housing inspections, and any survey results conducted by the Council.