Rep. Mike Levin introduced a new bill aimed at bettering the health and safety of homes for military families after reports surfaced of “substandard” and even “hazardous” conditions, according to the bill’s sponsors.
Levin, who represents California's 49th Congressional District that includes Camp Pendleton, introduced the “Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act” on March 14.
“Servicemembers and their families sacrifice to keep our country safe, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. The last thing they should have to worry about is housing that jeopardizes their health and safety,” Levin said in a released statement.
Cosponsored by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Katie Hill of California, Elaine Luria of Virginia, and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, it marks the first time Levin has introduced a bill as a member of Congress.
“Our bravest Americans are protecting this nation and deserve good housing, health care, and quality of life. Military families should never have to settle for less. This bill is an important step toward correcting a problem I hope we never encounter again,” Luria said.
Levin cited that the bill was created after Reuters investigated the reportedly poor living condition of military bases across the country, including Camp Pendleton.
The investigation outlined persistent mold, water leaks, and rodent and insect infestations, according to Levin.
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“Unfortunately, reports have unearthed unacceptable living conditions in privatized military housing,” said Spanberger. “Our bipartisan bill would hold contractors accountable, stop them from imposing unfair damage fees, and ensure they fix hazardous conditions.”
The bill would impact private contractor-provided housing for military families.
It would withhold a servicemember’s housing allowance until a military housing official can inspect the home for any environmental, safety, or health hazards, according to Levin. The servicemember would also have to agree that the housing is “satisfactory.”
If a military housing official deems the home unfit, the housing company will pay for all relocation costs, under this bill.
The bill will ensure that servicemembers don’t have to pay a deposit or “any fee or penalty related to ending a lease early, except for normal wear and tear,” Levin said.
Contractors must reimburse servicemembers for any damages to their property caused by “a hazard,” under this bill.
The bill would also withhold incentive fees by the Secretary of Defense to any contractor who “persistently fails to remedy hazards,” according to Levin.
The proposed legislation would create a standard for health and safety inspectors that Levin said would ensure consistent inspection practices.
In order to attempt a higher level of transparency, the bill would also create an electronic system so servicemembers can track their work orders for their homes.
The legislation was originally introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia.
To read Levin’s full statement on the bill, visit the representative’s website.