Like nearly all family housing on American military bases, these homes had been handed over by the Pentagon to a private contractor to manage and maintain for profit, under a program called the Military Housing Privatization Initiative that began in the 1990s. Some 207,000 housing units at bases across the country are now controlled by a handful of private corporations.
The privatization program has been plagued in recent years by widespread complaints about neglected or slipshod repairs, unsafe conditions and, especially, mold problems. Critics say that the program gives the corporations every incentive to skimp on maintenance, and that the armed services do too little to hold them accountable.
In a report in September, the Army said inspectors had visited 49 bases, and found that residents at 48 of them reported concerns over safety and environmental issues and had “some level of dissatisfaction” with their on-base housing. The top concerns were mold, lead-based paint, asbestos, poor water quality and exposure to sewage.