In 1996, the Department of Defense created the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) program to improve military housing. This program, including 50-year contracts with privatized military housing partners, allowed the private companies to build and manage military housing, with the idea that this would result in better-maintained homes at a lower cost. Unfortunately, this appears to have failed. In recent years, reports of unsafe and inadequate living conditions have drawn attention to severe issues with privatized military housing.
26 years into the MHPI program, health issues caused by poor maintenance is just one of many problems with privatized military housing due to inadequate maintenance. Privatized housing companies seem to be focused more on profits than on providing quality housing for military families, which can lead to serious health issues caused by mold, water damage and other environmental hazards. Unfortunately, many of these problems go unreported or unresolved due to a lack of oversight from the DoD and Military Housing Offices responsible for monitoring these contracts and fear of retaliation from the families.
Despite multiple attempts at the legislative level to protect military families' rights, class action lawsuits by residents, charges by the Department of Justice against housing companies like Balfour Beatty and Hunt, and multiple investigations at the Capitol, the needle has barely moved in improving the situation. Therefore, the Armed Forces Housing Advocates stands firm in its belief that military families must be educated on their rights and understand their lease agreement before signing so that they can protect themselves from unscrupulous landlords who may prioritize profits over quality housing options for our service members and their families. We also firmly advocate that the unbiased third-party oversight of the program is the only way to achieve true and meaningful change in the MHPI program. Readiness starts with a safe home!
Season’s Greetings AFHA Members, Families, and Partners!
As 2023 approaches, I find myself astonished at the level of compassion, tenacity, and knowledge I have had the privilege to experience from our team, partners, military families, mentors, and supporters of Armed Forces Housing Advocates. To say I am grateful would be an understatement.
More heartening than that is the steadfast support you all have given to ensure we are able to continue our mission of advocating that military members and their families have access to safe and habitable housing-the fact that this is a daunting and thankless task is not lost on me. With long hours of volunteering, fear of retaliation, economic hardships, and experiencing your own military housing issues, you have all remained resolute in building up our ability to help thousands of military families across the nation. Among these efforts that we worked tirelessly on, and will continue to do so next year, include:
Next year, AFHA will continue to enact meaningful change by "getting into good trouble, necessary trouble" as Representative Lewis once said – to continue moving the needle on rebuilding the Military Housing Privatization Initiative with solutions that protect military families across the nation.
We became "trouble makers" when we opened nearly 20 months ago in several ways. We used our advocacy work to leverage the voices of national leaders and partner organizations to publicly disrupt policies and practices that negatively affect the lives of our service members and their families. We also stood our ground as we took on machines far larger than our nonprofit, firm in our commitment to protect the families that come to us for help. Finally, as a military housing advocacy coalition leader, AFHA activated its learning series in 2022 for advocates featuring sessions and certifications focused on disability rights, diversity and equity, water restoration, mold remediation, best practices for mold and asbestos occurrences, Tenant Bill of Rights violations, and the dispute process.
In 2023, AFHA will continue its advocate education councils to continue these and other meaningful conversations. We are also excited to begin conducting our new research in the following areas for report to Congressional offices:
As a disruptor in the military housing space, while AFHA has had successes, we have taken some blows in 2022, which was expected. The Military Housing Readiness Council Act, though supported fervently by dozens of legislators on both sides of the aisle, was effectively demolished. While painful to learn, as the National Defense Authorization Act is coming to a place of completion, we understand that the "Council Act" would have allowed the curtain to be pulled back on the MHPI program-an action we feel was alarming to all those involved. That said, we will not stop fighting for true third-party oversight of this program, we will continue to provide solutions for problems we find, and we will not be silenced in the process.
Financially, like many grassroots nonprofits across the country often challenged with financial uncertainties, AFHA continued to examine how it conducts business and verify its viability through sound fiscal practices. Through the efforts of our finance team, AFHA will complete their first audit and will be poised for growth in 2023. We will remain a fully volunteer force for 2023, making certain all grants, donations and other funding resources will go straight back to AFHA's programs and operations.
In continuing to maintain a high level of engagement, AFHA worked tirelessly to engage with our social media channels, and create informative and entertaining content for viewers, particularly on TikTok. We have also begun sending the first series of monthly newsletters to our subscribers and will continue to do so throughout 2023. Our website remains an excellent resource of information and we will shortly begin utilizing Youtube as another platform for education. We also hope to come together in person next year for an event to connect with military families, supporters, and partners.
In closing, I remain rooted in hope and perseverance-I know that we will continue to persist in our mission because we have already come so far. I know it because the AFHA team is one of the most industrious and formidable groups of people I have ever had the honor of guiding. And I know we will persist because readiness starts with a safe home.
Thank you to all, and I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays. We will see you in 2023-you can't bury us.
Armed Forces Housing Advocates
Moving can be stressful for military families, especially for military families with disabilities. When moving to an area with limited housing options it can often seem as if living in privatized military housing (“Base housing”) is the only option. Fortunately, the Fair Housing Act awards the same protections to residents of privatized military housing as it does to residents of off base housing. This means that it is illegal to discriminate against race, national origin, color, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
One accomodation that disabled individuals may need to request is the presence of an assistance animal. The Fair Housing Act defines an assistance animal as “an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person’s disability.” This means that an assistance animal is not a pet, and is instead a necessary piece of medical equipment. While the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that assistance animals (also known as “service animals”) be task trained for public access, the Fair Housing Act does not require that the animals be task trained as long as their presence in the home alleviates the disability in some way. These animals are commonly referred to as “emotional support animals” or “ESA”.
Whether your assistance animal is task trained or provides emotional support for your disability, the process for requesting an accommodation is the same. You are able to submit your request at any time before or after moving into your home, and you may submit it in whatever format you prefer. Many housing companies will provide you their preferred form, however, they are required to accept your request regardless of how it is submitted, including but not limited to, email, phone, or in person. We recommend that you always follow up in writing after any verbal conversations for documentation purposes.
Once you have submitted your accommodation request you may be required to submit additional documentation. Your housing provider may request additional documentation only if the disability and need for the assistance animal are not apparent. If the disability and need for the animal are not apparent then your housing provider may ask you if your animal is task trained, if the answer is yes then they may not request additional documentation. If the animal is not task trained then they may request additional documentation. Your housing provider is not allowed to ask for your diagnosis but may request documentation that you have a disability and that you have a need for an assistance animal. This may be in the form of a letter from a medical provider, social security disability determination, documentation of veterans disability, medical records, or other forms of documentation.
Your assistance animal is not a pet and your housing provider is not allowed to charge you pet rent, pet fees, or any additional fees related to owning the animal, however, if your assistance animal damages the property you may be charged fees related to the repair or replacement of the property that was damaged. Your assistance animal must not be subject to any restrictions such as pet friendly units, breed restrictions, or other restrictions that would apply to pets. Even though your assistance animal is medically necessary there may be some instances where they can be denied or asked to leave. Your animal must not be a danger to neighbors or housing employees and must not cause significant damage to the property.
For further assistance with submitting a request for an assistance animal in military housing submit an advocate request.
Today I took a break from packing for our upcoming move, to write my “mold story” for an organization wanting to bring attention to the systemic mold issues in MHPI housing. I’m packing for an upcoming move because for the second time in my husband’s military career, we are living in an MHPI home with mold problems. We were offered a transfer to a different MHPI home, as the housing company says, for “customer service” reasons...but not because there is a problem with our current home, of course.
As I write my “mold story” the emotions are overwhelming. The guilt for putting my children in unsafe homes twice, the fear the home to where we are transferring may be no better, the tightening of my chest every time my daughter says “Mommy, my head hurts,” as I work. The wide range of emotions are relentless, but days like today when I attempt to put our story into words...they’re unbearable-anger, disappointment, sadness, fear, uncertainty, and resentment, to name a few. The aftermath of fighting the first MHPI housing company who placed us in a toxic home is constant; I live in a defensive state when it comes to privatized military housing companies.
Submitting a work order for a leaky faucet leads to almost compulsive cleaning of my, typically already clean, house. Because if my baseboards are dirty, they’ll blame the leaking faucet on me, right? When you’re told mold in your vents is “dirt”, or “you probably opened the door and a leaf blew in," and that “you don’t run the fan in your bathroom long enough," and “your thermostat should be set only 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature," or my all-time favorite, “it’s scientifically impossible, absent a flooding event for mold in the home to impact your contents..." you start to believe you are the problem. That abusive relationship with the MHPI company begins when you identify a life, safety, or health issue, and changes the way you function in your daily life. Watching your children suffer through allergy testing, respiratory issues, bloody noses, struggling to breathe, in a home you know is not safe while being told nothing is wrong, permanently changes the way you live your daily life. I miss the days I believed my home was the safest place my children could be.
Nobody forced us to live in military housing again. After our first experience with a toxic home, we should have run away and never looked back. But we made what we thought was the best decision as we had to PCS during the beginning of a pandemic, when most of the country was locked down. The more our move date was changed, the more difficult it became to secure a home off base because there was no guarantee as to when we would arrive at my husband’s new assignment. Do I regret our decision to give military housing another chance? Yes. Will we live in military housing again? Not if I can help it. Is any of this my fault?No.
Each time we paid rent, or Basic Allowance for Housing, the expectation was that the housing company would provide us with a safe home. It's a reasonable request, after all. What is unreasonable, however, is the continued disregard for the health and safety of residents by those tasked with managing them and the demand that we live in these homes, keeping our mouths shut. I ask myself every day, how can a company run by human beings with their own families sleep at night asking us to suffer in silence? Where is their humanity?
As the events with the contaminated water in Hawaii unfold and Armed Forces Housing Advocates does our best to support military families suffering in unimaginable ways, the words from the residents over the last two months play in my head on a reel. “They don’t care about us… they don’t care that we are sick… they don’t care that they poisoned my children…I’ll never be able to trust them again." Many of us at AFHA have experienced similar thoughts when living in unsafe MHPI homes. It is why we volunteer so much of our time to support military families, and to advocate for change. It is why we can say “we believe you” and mean it-we have actually been there. And some of us are still there. We believe you. Whether you’re dealing with contaminated water, dealing with mold, lead-based paint, window hazards, or any other life, safety, or health issue, we believe you.
The toll of MHPI substandard living conditions takes on all of us, mentally and physically, is immeasurable. Someday, I have to believe, that all of this will come to light and that the Department of Defense will hold the MHPI companies accountable for their action on a large scale. I don't know if the damage done to my family, to thousands of families, will ever be undone. I am not sure if it is a bell that can be un-rung. What I do know is that readiness starts with a safe home, and I am here with AFHA to make sure that message gets into the heads of anyone that needs to hear it.
Exceptional Families of the Military Has Partnered With Armed Forces Housing Advocates On Behalf Of Military Families Enrolled In EFMP
I’m writing to you, my fellow EFMP families, today about the water crisis occurring in Hawaii. As the mother of a child with very complex medical needs. I know our lives are busy, and there is barely a moment to stop and think of all the ways this crisis has affected your family. In an effort to support you where you are now I want to provide you with a few things to consider in your lives as EFMP Families.
In a prior blog post AFHA shared: “In consultation with Dr. Andrew Whelton Ph.D of Purdue University, we have determined that there are some household items that should be permanently discontinued from use. Contaminated water that came into contact with plastic items may have allowed the chemicals to adhere to or penetrate into plastics. This includes household items as well as plastic plumbing components. Even after the contaminated water is flushed from the water system and plumbing, some contaminated plastics, if present, can leech chemicals into “clean water or food” and make it unsafe. At this time, little is known about the exact chemicals and their concentrations that entered buildings. Out of an abundance of caution, if you live in the affected neighborhoods and until more information is known, please be mindful regarding the safe use of some household items.
What does this mean for EFMP families? Out of an abundance of caution we would urge you to set asides any plastic medical supplies which have come in contact with contaminated water, including but not limited to:
When we look at the other areas of our lives:
If you answered yes to these questions we urge you to take the same precautions as you will for your medical supplies.
Regarding oxygen use and petroleum: As you were likely told at delivery oxygen should not be used in conjunction with petroleum products as it is a fire hazard. We do not fully understand the dangers associated with using the contaminated water with your oxygen supplies but would caution you that as shared previously by AFHA that petroleum can leach into clothes and if your washing machine has been exposed to the contaminated water every load of laundy is also contaminated. When dressing your child we urge you to consider this.
Exceptional Families of the Military invites all EFMP families in Hawaii to join our online support group at: www.facebook.com/groups/OahuEFM/
We encourage you to share resources with your fellow EFMP families there and start exchanging surplus medical supplies while you wait for decisions to be made on your contaminated medical supplies.
On December 1, 2021 the Hawaii Department of Health confirmed the presence of petroleum product in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s water supply. Armed Forces Housing Advocates had been the first organization advising residents to stop drinking and bathing in the water since November 28, when we began to receive reports from families experiencing illness and a “chemical smell” in their homes’ water.
We have been working with Hawaiian and other elected officials, collecting data, and coordinating water distributions on the ground at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam with our team of volunteers. Additionally, we’ve reached out to experts at Purdue University’s Rapid Water Contamination Response and Recovery Team to provide even more guidance to help ensure families remain healthy.
In consultation with Dr. Andrew Whelton Ph.D of Purdue University, we have determined that there are some household items that should be permanently discontinued from use.
Contaminated water that came into contact with plastic items may have allowed the chemicals to adhere to or penetrate into plastics. This includes household items as well as plastic plumbing components.
Even after the contaminated water is flushed from the water system and plumbing, some contaminated plastics, if present, can leech chemicals into “clean water or food” and make it unsafe.
At this time, little is known about the exact chemicals and their concentrations that entered buildings. Out of an abundance of caution, if you live in the affected neighborhoods and until more information is known, please be mindful regarding the safe use of some household items.
Below is a list of items that we’ve categorized as “should be discarded” and “set aside until more conclusive testing results are available.”
Items that should be discarded:
As previously mentioned, any plastic items that have come in contact with contaminated water should be discarded. Dangerous chemicals can adhere to or penetrate plastics causing them to be unsafe for use. Anything that is plastic used for feeding a baby or toddler should be immediately discarded. Including but not limited to:
Bathroom and personal hygiene items that have come in contact with contaminated water should also be deemed unsafe for use and should be discarded. Items such as:
Additionally, some kitchen items should be discarded as well. All plastic dishware to include plates, bowls, cups, and utensils should be deemed unsafe for use and discarded.
Some items should be set aside and not used until more conclusive testing results are available:
Other household items may be kept for now just set aside until more conclusive testing results are available. Items such as:
It’s also advice that you wash all items with potable drinking water until further notice. Items include but are not limited to:
Also, any face masks that have been washed in contaminated water should be set aside and not used. If you can opt for disposable masks it is recommended to do so.
As with cautionary guidance to avoid drinking and bathing in the contaminated water, we agree with experts that discarding items that may be tainted from the chemical exposure is also sound advice to keep you and your family safe. If you have other items that were not included in the aforementioned list but are questionable to you, it is best to discontinue use of that item until more conclusive tests results are published.
We will continue to work on providing Hawaii families with resources, expert-backed information, and updates through the coming weeks as this crisis continues to unfold.
You can help AFHA provide resources to families in Hawaii by donating. AFHA has also publicly requested the president to declare a state of emergency with an open letter you may sign here.
Whether it’s your first duty station or the last time you’ll ever have to PCS, if you intend on leasing housing on your installation there are several things our experts recommend keeping a keen eye out for upon receiving your offer of address.
You may be wondering about how many bedrooms your home will have, what the floor plan looks like, how much yard space you’ll have, and other questions regarding cosmetics. Your property manager or leasing consultant will provide you with this information as well as a walk-through before you accept a unit. We’ve broken down all of the additional items you should consider when leasing military housing and why they’re red flags!
Here’s what you need to know:
The first step when receiving an offer of an address on-post is to obtain the 7 year maintenance history report from the property manager. This report should give you a clear idea of what kind of work has been done on the home in the past 7 years, as well as any emergencies or major maintenance issues reported by previous residents.
A documented water leak on the maintenance history should prompt you to inquire further about the scope of repairs that were done to resolve the issue. Water leaks in high moisture areas of the home such as the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and hot water heater closet are not uncommon in older military housing. Water damage left unrepaired, or unchecked for extended periods, can lead to issues like mold growth in the home.
While there is no specific legal standard or EPA regulatory guideline surrounding mold, it can still pose a health hazard and should be prevented by both the property owner and the tenant.
There are several types of mold, most of which can lead to allergy-like symptoms or chronic illness if a person is exposed over a long period. Babies and young children are especially more at risk to develop reactionary symptoms if exposed to mold.
If a water leak or several water leaks appear on the maintenance history, ask your property manager for the details of the repairs completed:
Who completed the water restoration services?
Was the contractor IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration) certified?
If the water damage was extensive and required structural repairs to the home, ask what areas have been completely replaced during the restoration. Look in, or ask to see pictures of, areas underneath sinks, inside dishwashers and refrigerators, and if you’re doing an in-person walk-through be sure to turn on all faucets to check that they run and drain properly.
As with water leaks, should you see notes specifically about plumbing emergencies and plumbing work done to the house this is also a good indication to inquire further.
You may also want to flush each of the toilets in the home during your walk-through.
Ask when the last time the toilet gasket was replaced.
A new wax ring should be replaced any time a toilet is removed and put back in place, such as during flooring installations. The wax seal prevents water from leaking when it passes to the drain pipe, and is also a protective barrier from sewer gas.
If you see HVAC repairs or emergencies documented on the work order history be sure to question the nature of the issue.
Ask how old your HVAC unit is and when it may be due for an upgrade.
When was the last time filters were changed?
High humidity built up due to an inefficient HVAC unit may also lead to mold problems in the home. Additionally, ducts that are not connected or contain holes can cause dust and debris, or asbestos insulation, to fly through the home directly into your family’s air supply. Wiring should also be checked upon walk through inspection, as this can be a fire hazard or the cause of a gas leak.
A thorough home inspection should check if your HVAC unit is running safely and efficiently.
This notation is an immediate indication to ask further questions. LHS inspections notated on maintenance history may pertain to issues such as mold, exposed lead-based paint, exposed asbestos, gas leaks, fire hazards, and more. You should ask: When was the issue first reported? What repairs were necessary to fix it?
Who was contracted to complete the repairs and what were their certifications?
The more information you can gather about a unit’s history the better informed you will be on its safety and habitability. Older homes may have more extensive repairs and renovations that have been completed throughout their lifetime. Which brings us to the next red flag regarding homes as old as or older than 1978...
Ask your property manager how old the home is.
Request lead and asbestos hazard maps from your property manager.
Asbestos in older homes can typically be found in vinyl floor tiles and flooring adhesives, wall and attic insulation, roofing, and pipes.
1978 is the key year you will want to look out for in regard to lead-based paint hazards. This information should be disclosed to you in your lease with an addendum for you to sign in acknowledgement. This means that you acknowledge the home was built pre-1978, before the federal regulations banning the use of lead-based paint, it may still be present if it has been encapsulated.
Abatement means the lead-based paint was permanently removed.
Encapsulation means that it was safely contained with sealants that prevent lead dust exposure to the environment, but the original lead-based paint is still present underneath these layers.
If there were structural repairs made in the pre-1978 built home that cut into the drywall, or repairs were made around original window sills, ask the property manager if the structural repairs done were considered an RRP activity.
RRP stands for the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule for work that can potentially disturb and expose lead-based paint.
Such repairs would be activities like cutting into the original drywall, replacing the windows, or sanding.
Any contractor who performs this work would have a corresponding RRP certification number and should have the proper training by providers that are EPA approved.
You may also ask how old the windows are to get an idea of how long it has been since the originals may have been replaced.
The topic of window safety brings us to our sixth military housing red flag.
If the home has more than one story, take a good look at the windows on the above ground floors.
If the sill sits less than 42” from the floor, this is a red flag. Ask the property manager if window guards have been installed.
Guard bars and child safety screens are necessary for preventing small children from falling from lethal heights. If the home has hazardous windows and does not have these installed, be sure to request this alteration in your agreement before signing the lease.
Remember, window falls are completely preventable. Your property manager should easily provide the necessary guards to make windows safe.
Now you know 6 major red flags to look for on a maintenance history report in privatized military housing.
Additional visual things you may want to ask about or look for during a walk-though:
Any trip hazards in the flooring.
If the home has fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
When was the last time outlets were replaced?
May you have a better sense of how to read your 7 year maintenance history report and how to communicate concerns to your property manager before signing a lease! Our advocate team are experts in all of these topics and can help you voice your concerns to your housing office.
If you are already living on installation and any of these issues outlined in this post are a concern to you, you can request an advocate here.
Together we can work toward a better quality of living in privatized military housing. Knowledge, education, and community are what drive us here at AFHA in our effort to advocate for safe and habitable housing for all service members and their families. Readiness starts with a safe home.
Are the BAH rates at your installation inadequate?
We want to help. Why do we want an increase in BAH? Simple. We have homeless military families. This is unacceptable and we need a solution now.
BAH needs to be increased at many locations. Installations can request an increase in BAH for their service members when standard costs of adequate housing are established. If you believe you are one of these installations, AFHA wants to work with you to establish a proposal to work to get those rates increased.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 included the prevision shown below, which allows for the increase.
(A) The Secretary of Defense may prescribe a temporary adjustment in the current rates of basic allowance for housing for a military housing area or a portion thereof (in this paragraph, “BAH rates”) if the Secretary determines that the actual costs of adequate housing for civilians in that military housing area or portion thereof differs from the current BAH rates by more than 20 percent.
(B) Any temporary adjustment in BAH rates under this paragraph shall remain in effect only until the effective date of the first adjustment of BAH rates for the affected military housing area that occurs after the date of the adjustment under this paragraph.
(C) This paragraph shall cease to be effective on September 30, 2022.
Families deserve adequate housing allowances in order to make the best decision on where to live. When left with no options outside of the installation, many families are forced to choose to live in privatized military housing, which has shown to have systemic failures.
Did you know that the DoD is required to provide the private housing companies that run military housing 5% above the BAH rate for each family living in their homes? That means if you receive $2000 in BAH a month to live off of the installation when you live on the installation the DoD is giving an addition $100 a month to the housing company on top of your BAH. This is money that the families will never see. Now $100 may not seem like a lot, but let’s put this into real numbers.
Ellsworth AFB is a small installation with 500 homes, as of July 2021 482 of those homes were occupied. The BAH rate for an E-04 is $888. There will be a variety of ranks living in these homes higher and lower, but for these purposes let’s say everyone is paying $888. Yearly, this housing company would make an extra $256,810.00 from the DoD, money that had these families lived off the installation, they would never see. I would say this is a conservative estimate and the number is actually likely higher when you factor in BAH rates for officers and upper enlisted.
Now let’s look at the actual availability and cost of living off the installation. If you’re an E-04 at Ellsworth AFB and you need a home with 2 bedrooms, there are only 6 currently available and if you need 3 bedrooms, there are only 2 available. When a military housing company tells you that you can just live off the installation when you are unhappy with your home - It is not that simple! Readiness starts with a safe home.
For over 25 years military families with disabilities have had their rights violated. In 1996, the US government moved to privatize military housing with the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI). Private companies formed Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) in coordination with the US government. The lands were leased for the housing units they were overseeing from the government as well. These Public Private Venture (PPV) companies also receive financial assistance from the US government in the form of loans and grants(subsidies).Military residents of these PPV-run military housing communities who have a disability may request what is known as a "reasonable accommodation." Reasonable accommodations may be requested if the resident's housing unit does not meet the safety and livability needs that are necessitated by the resident's disability. Since the inception of the MHPI, there have been many documented cases of these PPV companies refusing reasonable accommodation requests or approving but then forcing the residents to pay for them.
Under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it is unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations to rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and public and common use areas. Reasonable accommodations also include any structural changes that may be necessary. Under Section 504, reasonable accommodations must be provided and paid for by the housing provider unless providing them would be an undue financial and administrative burden or a fundamental alteration of the program. In such cases, the provider is still required to provide any other reasonable accommodation up to the point that would not result in an undue financial and administrative burden on the particular recipient and/or constitute a fundamental alteration of the program.Also under section 504, a housing provider falls under the requirements if they are a "recipient of federal financial assistance." Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 broadly defines federal financial assistance to include "grants and loans of federal funds, the grant or donation of federal property and interests in property, the detail of federal personnel, the sale and lease of, and permission to use, federal property or interest in such property without consideration or at a nominal consideration, and any federal agreement, arrangement, or other contract which has as one of its purposes the provision of assistance."
Since PPV companies lease the government land for the housing communities, receive federal loans and grants, and/or have formed a federal agreement with the provision of assistance, they must abide by the laws set forth in Section 504.
The law is clear, yet the PPV companies and the DOD refuse to acknowledge it. Every time, over the last 25 years, that these PPV companies have refused or forced military families to pay for reasonable accommodations, they were violating the law. The questions must be asked, why do these companies get to pick and choose which laws to abide by? When will the DOD start protecting their military families' rights? Especially their most vulnerable, military families with disabilities. Readiness starts with a safe home.
In April of 2020, my son fell 15 feet from our second-story window in privatized military housing. I later discovered, after my neighbor's son fell from their window a month later, that Lincoln Military Housing (and all PPV housing) was to be abiding by Evan's Law-a law enacted into the NDAA, since 2017, that ensures homes should be fitted and/or retrofitted with window fall prevention devices to promote safety. After a year of lengthy data collection, we discovered that across the nation these prevention devices were not installed in most homes. In some cases, housing companies were even refusing to install them or charging residents for them. I knew that this would be my mission with AFHA-I would fight tooth and nail to ensure Evan's Law was not only implemented, but also the language would close the loopholes MHPI companies use to avoid installing window fall prevention devices.
Our military children deserve to be safe. Thanks to Senator Hirono, we are moving another step closer to ending the deaths and life-long injuries faced by children in military housing without proper window fall prevention. Additionally, we have worked tirelessly as an organization in supporting families gain access to the best prevention device for children ages 5 and under-window guards. But our work is not done-this week a 5-year-old child tragically fell from a MHPI property in San Diego managed by Lincoln Military Housing. This is the fourth documented fall in a San Diego property by LMH that has occurred in just one year's time. And what's more, the home was verified to have not been fitted with any type of window fall prevention device prior to the accident. More must be done, and along with AFHA, I will continue our fight to ensure window guards are installed, in accordance with the spirit and verbiage of Evan's Law, for families that want them. Readiness starts with a safe home.
If you live in LMH properties in San Diego, you may request window guards to be installed in your home, free of charge, via a maintenance request. If you are having trouble accessing this device, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
For more information on child window safety, click here.