March 22, 2019

Van Hollen Announces Legislation to Protect Military Families Living In Private Housing

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced his support of legislation to address health, safety, and environmental hazards in private military housing. This legislation, the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act, would enact a number of measures to hold private housing providers accountable and to ensure military housing is up to par. Serious issues – including homes with persistent mold blooms, water leaks, and rodent and insect infestations – have been reported at Maryland’s Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground. Senator Van Hollen and his office have recently discussed these issues with the Fort Meade Garrison Commander and leadership at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

“Our men and women put their lives on the line to protect our country – the most basic thing we can do is ensure that they have the housing they need, and anything short of that is unacceptable. This bill would address serious issues with private housing at our military bases – including at Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground – to ensure the quality of housing our service members receive is up to par. I will continue working in the Senate to address these issues and provide our military families with all of the resources they deserve,” said Senator Van Hollen.

Senator Van Hollen joins Senators Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in supporting this legislation.

Provisions of the bill include:

  • Basic allowance for housing: The installation commander shall withhold payment of a service member’s housing allowance until a military housing official has inspected an environmental, safety or health hazard, verified that appropriate remediation has taken place, and the service member concurs that the remediation is satisfactory. In the case that the hazard requires the service member to leave the housing unit, the housing company will pay all relocation costs. 
  • Housing costs: Ensures service members don’t have to pay a deposit, and any fee or penalty related to ending a lease early, except for normal wear and tear. The bill also requires contractors to reimburse service members for damage to their private property caused by a hazard.
  • Withholding incentive fees: Requires the Secretary of Defense to withhold incentive fees to any contractor who persistently fails to remedy hazards.
  • Common credentials: Creates standard credentials for health, safety and environmental inspectors across services, and including contractors, to ensure consistent inspection practices. 
  • Additional transparency for service members: Requires the Defense Department to establish an electronic system so that service members can track and oversee their work orders.