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Military families concerned housing reform bill fails to fix 'slum' conditions

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Posted at 5:49 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 20:56:08-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Included in the new defense budget bill just passed by Congress is what some call the most sweeping military housing reforms in decades.

However, San Diego military families are concerned that a loophole will allow the private companies that oversee the housing developments to continue ignoring what they call "slum" conditions.

10News has been digging for months into the problems reported by residents at local communities run by Lincoln Military Housing, one of the biggest companies in the industry. Residents say they have been plagued by mold, which has caused illness, as well as rodent and insect infestations, and shoddy maintenance and repairs.

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"Lincoln Military Housing doesn't do a very good job of maintaining the infrastructure of these homes," says resident Erika Bradley.

Bradley says the recent storms have led to more problems with leaks and mold. She says around 50 families living in the Santo Terrace community in Tierrasanta were forced to leave their homes and move into hotels.

The new deal agreed to by Congress include the framework of significant reforms, including a tenant bill of rights, a strict set of regulations for how complaints should be handled, and an arbitration process that leaves the final decision in the hand of base commanders, rather than the companies.

RELATED: Marine Corps family wins lawsuit against Lincoln Military Housing, after kids sickened by mold

However, the language in the bill appears to indicate that the companies will not be forced to sign on to the new processes, making them voluntary. While the military and Congress can use the failure to agree to the processes as grounds to decide not to renew the contract with a company, most of the housing companies have long-term deals in place. That means it's possible that it could be nearly 30 years before some of them would be forced to consider making changes.

"It's kind of something that looks really good on paper," Bradley says, "but how does it actually help us in our day to day lives?"

10News asked if Lincoln plans to agree to the new procedures. A spokesperson responded that the company is reviewing the provisions passed by Congress.

RELATED: Navy takes action on complaints of mold, rats in military housing

In a statement to 10News, she said "Lincoln Military Housing, along with our military partners, have instituted a series of reforms to improve service for military families. We will continue to work with our partners on ways we can continue to improve service and strengthen the program.”

10News also reached out to Congresswoman Susan Davis and Senator Dianne Feinstein, who have both worked on military housing issues. Neither was available for an interview.