Congressman Panetta Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Oversight of Privatized Military Housing

May 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve oversight and enhance the health, safety, and quality of privatized military housing.  The Better Military Housing Act requires the Department of Defense, in consultation with military families, to develop and implement a strategy to improve privatized military housing. The action plan must improve personnel training and contract oversight, protect against any reprisal, and better regulate health metrics and lease provisions.

Original cosponsors of the Better Military Housing Act include Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD), Congressman John Carter (R-TX), Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Congressman Van Taylor (R-TX), and Congressman Michael Waltz (R-FL). Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

These sponsoring Members represent critical defense installations, including four of the five largest military installations in the United States – Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and Fort Benning.

"It is imperative the Department of Defense develop a holistic solution to remedy systemic privatized military housing issues and empower servicemember families," said Congressman Panetta.  "This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will enhance transparency, communication, and accountability standards connected to privatized military housing. My sincere thanks to all stakeholders for working with me on this issue.”

"As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, I was outraged when I learned of poor housing conditions on our military bases," said Congressman Hudson.  "It is completely unacceptable for our service members and their families to have anything less than high-quality, safe homes.  This legislation improves oversight and brings much-needed transparency and accountability, and it’s a step in the right direction to make things right for military families."

"Every family deserves a safe place to call home, especially our servicemembers and their families who sacrifice every day to serve this country," said Senator Cortez Masto.  "It’s unacceptable that military families are faced with living in poorly maintained housing, or newly constructed homes that are unsafe.  I’m proud to introduce legislation to bring much needed reform and oversight to the privatized military housing industry and ensure that our military families have the support they need to thrive."

"Military families already sacrifice so much for our country – they shouldn’t be forced to put up with unacceptable, often dangerous housing conditions," said Congressman Brown.  "I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, across both chambers of Congress, to empower our servicemembers and their families, increase oversight, and ensure we are delivering the safe, high-quality housing they deserve."

"Servicemembers and their families deserve safe, comfortable, high quality housing," Congressman Carter said.  "Investigations have revealed housing conditions at several military installations across the country that are absolutely unacceptable. This legislation requires the Defense Secretary to develop a plan to address and improve these quality issues, and also develops a tenant’s bill of rights to empower servicemembers when addressing concerns regarding their living quarters. I look forward to Speaker Pelosi bringing this legislation to the floor for swift bipartisan passage."

"Every military family deserves safe and secure housing, but clearly our privatized military housing system isn’t delivering," Congresswoman Eshoo said.  "This bipartisan legislation empowers military families in my district at Moffett Field and across the country to take action when their needs are not being met, and it ensures the DoD is conducting proper oversight of the private contractors responsible for maintaining military housing."

"As they put their lives on hold and sacrifice to defend our freedom, the men and women of our armed forces should not be left with sub-standard housing as their only available option to raise their family. As a Marine, I'm proud to join Congressman Panetta and introduce this legislation to afford our military service members with a quality, safe place to call home while serving their nation," said Congressman Taylor.

"Substandard housing conditions are simply unacceptable for our service members and their families. Each of them should be able to come home to a safe, high-quality home. We must remain vigilant for the welfare of our troops on the home front, just as much as they are vigilant for us abroad and I’m honored to introduce this reasonable, bipartisan proposal on behalf of those who serve," said Congressman Waltz.

This legislation is the product of Congressman Panetta’s engagement with servicemember families, military leadership, private partner landlords, and military housing advocates to facilitate discussion, address constituent concerns, conduct oversight, and work to develop workable solutions to the issue.