When you sign up for the military, you are guaranteed to have a roof over your head if you are on active duty. It’s a part of your entitlements, and part of the reason the military is paid so little for all that they do. If you are enlisted, you live in the barracks rent-free, and it is something that is chock full of problems, and they often lack proper repairs. As an officer, a service member over a specific rank, or married, you give up the barracks to receive a basic allowance for housing.
Many married service members know the horrors of the barracks, and since the housing is privatized on many bases, they choose to live in on-post housing. They figure it will make the commute easier and provide their family a sense of security to live on post. A new bipartisan Senate investigation revealed what those who have lived there already could easily tell you; it can be an absolute nightmare.
Balfour Beatty Communities is the company currently in the spotlight. While they already admitted wrongdoing in December 2021 from an investigation into incidents between 2013 and 2019, this is a whole new look. With thousands of documents and almost two dozen interviews, the investigation is incredibly thorough. What emerges from this investigation is even more systemic issues and patterns that span their whole portfolio. With nearly 150,000 residents across 43,000 on-base homes on dozens of Army, Navy, and Air Force bases in 26 states, they have a vast reach. The Senate focused their investigation on Fort Gordon in Georgia, and Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
The biggest problems they found are the same ones single enlisted soldiers complain about; things being broken when they moved in, not being repaired when they ask for them to be repaired, or not being repaired properly. It’s also strikingly similar to the same charges Balfour pled guilty to in December 2021. This latest investigation also features numerous cases of black mold and other serious health hazards that they are not only overlooking but are just blatantly ignoring.
In one case, an Army Captain (CPT)’s daughter was diagnosed with eczema after living in on-base housing from Balfour. After dozens of visits to an allergy specialist, they were informed it was most likely a mold issue in their house that was causing the problem. In the Senate’s report, it is noted that Balfour gave the suggestion that their inspections showed no mold, and they failed to document the family’s numerous complaints within their systems. Most shockingly, they tried to bill the CPT after he moved out in what they are now calling a “clerical error.”
If you’ve ever lived in, been inside of, or even talked to someone who’s been around military housing, you know how bad it can be. The privatization of housing with companies such as Balfour was supposed to stop those problems. On certain bases, the people running the show are doing the right things. They want the best for their residents, and they are going to ensure it’s provided to them. When the serious complaints get to the top, they aren’t being cataloged as it could impact their ability to continue their contracts.
This is no excuse for treating our nation’s heroes this way. They are stepping up and signing on that dotted line to stand up and serve this country. It is a largely thankless job, with minimal downtime, and horrific situations for their families. There is never enough pay, and the equipment is usually outdated and not what you need to do the job correctly. Somehow, they still make the mission happen. So, it shouldn’t be too much to expect to come home to a safe house for you and your family. In the name of profits and a new contract, Balfour tells them not so fast.