SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Members of Congress are responding to a Team 10 investigation that uncovered claims that some San Diego military housing was unsafe and had areas with mold.
The claims are outlined in several lawsuits filed by San Diego area families.
The lawsuits filed against Lincoln Property Management and San Diego Family Housing claim their military housing was unsafe, saying it had microbial contamination and other substandard conditions.
According to a lawsuit filed by the Huffman family against San Diego Family Housing and Lincoln Military Property Management, the Huffmans "repeatedly notified the defendants of these multiple defects in a timely manner; however, Defendants took no action to properly or time repair them and/or improperly attempted repairs resulting in further contamination, adding to the uninhabitability of the Subject property and making it untenantable and substandard."
"It took us demanding and getting his command involved to get them to displace us so that we could leave the home," April Huffman said. "So we went and left the home and lived in a hotel for about three months."
In a statement to ABC 10news Congresswoman, Sara Jacobs wrote the following:
Our servicemembers and their families sacrifice so much to serve our country, and it's unconscionable that their health and safety would be at risk in their own homes. I have heard horror stories from constituents about their military housing and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have taken military housing operators to task on their failures. I will continue fighting to ensure that military housing meets the standard we expect for our servicemembers. This is not only a health issue, but one of mission readiness and morale, and we have to do better.
California Representative Jackie Speier is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chair of a subcommittee.
She tells ABC 10News the ongoing issues of toxic and dangerous substances that military service members and their families are exposed to in military housing around the country remains an untenable situation and must be a top priority for the Defense Department.
In a statement the Congresswoman wrote:
Congress needs to take a good, hard look at these contracts and contracting companies – many of which I have no confidence are providing the service needed to address what families at multiple installations have described to me as infestations of rodents and roaches and exposure to mold, asbestos, and an array of chemicals," said Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee. "Cleary, San Diego needs to be added to the list of locations that needs scrutiny. This is a national crisis that directly impacts morale and readiness and that poses a serious threat to the security of our country. No more excuses DoD—we need to figure this out and fix it, now!
A spokesperson for Lincoln Military Housing says the company is dedicated to working with the DoD and Congress on improving services for their families.
In a statement to ABC 10News, the spokesperson said:
The Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) is a valuable program that has improved the overall quality of military housing compared to the DoD-managed housing of the last century. Beginning in 2017, LMH undertook a holistic review of our policies and procedures to explore how we could improve. We identified, developed, and implemented several reforms, and many of those reforms have been implemented, including a three-step process for dispute resolution and an industry-leading mold management program. LMH is in the process of making further reforms, a number of which are being developed and implemented with our service branch partners consistent with the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Together with DoD, LMH is working as expeditiously as possible to put structure around the dozens of complex provisions in the privatized housing section of the NDAA, to include those contained in the Tenant's Bill of Rights, which we fully support. LMH has always welcomed congressional members to visit our communities and see firsthand the improvements being made through our joint efforts, and while we have work to do, we do hope that Congresswoman Jacobs and Speier will take some time to come and see the progress from the recent legislation that they have championed.
Late Tuesday afternoon Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, also released a statement to ABC 10News.
The Senator wrote, "The companies that provide housing for our service members didn't just land another real estate deal – they have assumed responsibility for the safety, health, and wellbeing of military families who make incredible sacrifices every day in support of our national defense. There are far too many housing units that do not pass basic standards of living, leaving our service members and their families susceptible to unacceptable health hazards. I am steadfastly committed to improving military housing safety."