After almost three months, 1,189 soldiers who had been living in the aged, mold-infested housing in Fort Bragg have been moved out of the Smoke Bomb Hill barracks.
Mold was first discovered in multiple buildings in Smoke Hill Barracks this summer. Relocation was announced Aug. 4, and at the time base leadership said it would be completed in 30 days. More than two months later, the relocation is finally complete. It’s not clear why it took longer than the initial plan.
Approximately half of those displaced soldiers were moved into other dorms on the base, but the other half has been placed in private off-base housing. According to Fort Bragg’s leadership, the barracks were inspected ahead of relocation to make sure soldiers weren’t put in more bad housing. Those who were moved off-base were given assistance to help cover rent in private units, but the Army did not say how much it is, if it covers potentially costly rents or how long that assistance will last.
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“I would like to commend all leaders but especially our senior NCOs efforts which enabled us to accomplish this monumental effort in short order. It was not easy, but we wanted to ensure we did this right in order to best care of our Soldiers,” Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Deputy Commanding General said in a press release on the relocations. “We understood that all residential moves are significant to the soldier so our guiding principle was to take care of our people throughout this process and not cause undue hardship to due to the move.”
The aging Smoke Bomb Hill barracks constructed in the 1970s will be demolished and replaced with new buildings. The barracks were built as part of the Army’s shift to an all-volunteer force, but after nearly five decades, much of the housing constructed in that period is in need of replacement. It’s unclear how long it will take to get the new housing in Fort Bragg completed and ready for occupancy. For now, the Army says a time table for demolition and groundbreaking “will be announced at a later time.”
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