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(Reuters) - Air Force investigators raided the Oklahoma City offices of a major military landlord Tuesday morning, seizing computers and other material, in what the company said was part of an investigation into asbestos contamination.
(Reuters) - Congress on Tuesday approved the largest overhaul to the American military's housing program in more than two decades, vowing to end slum-like living conditions and hold private landlords and defense officials accountable for them.
The reforms, included in the yearly National Defense Authorization Act, aim to protect some 200,000 military families living on U.S. bases from health hazards including mold, lead, asbestos and pest infestations. The problems have been detailed by Reuters since last year in a series of investigations, Ambushed at Home.
The congressional action was prompted by the Reuters reports and a growing chorus of complaints from military families who joined forces to decry substandard living conditions.
The new defense bill would create a public database for every complaint made about privatized housing
Among the dozens of requirements outlined in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act is the requirement for the Secretary of Defense to create a public database for privatized housing complaints.
So, that will be... a lot.
Oklahoma Congresspeople slam private housing contractor at Tinker Air Force Base for negligence, fraud
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn leveled harsh criticism last week at the contractor accused of negligence and fraudulent activity while operating private housing at Tinker Air Force Base and other military installations.
Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, referred to Balfour Beatty Communities as "notorious." Horn, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told a company executive she was "incredibly disappointed you have failed to live up to your responsibility for taking care of the people that are living in these houses."
MacDill Air Force Base families are the latest to sue their private housing provider for mold problems
TAMPA — Five military families filed a federal lawsuit this week against owners and managers of private housing at MacDill Air Force Base, alleging years of negligence in persistent problems with mold throughout the buildings.
The families seek damages for emotional, financial and medical costs associated with mold exposure and other medical concerns. The lawsuit is the latest among several suits filed against military housing landlords across the country.
The Tampa lawsuit alleges that property owners and managers rejected families' concerns over mold exposure, performed shoddy remediation efforts, and failed to share results of their testing for mold. In at least one house, the mold went untreated for so long that mushrooms grew out of the floor, according to the suit.
A government official finally put to rest on Tuesday the lazy excuse that if privatized military housing was really that bad, service members would simply move out.
Elizabeth Field, director of the Government Accountability Office Defense Capabilities and Management, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that one of the metrics the Defense Department uses to measure privatized housing success is high occupancy rates.
In a May report, she said, the DoD called occupancy rates indicative of "high level of service member satisfaction and overall success."