On Wednesday, military families head to Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about their experiences, a hearing prompted in part by Reuters' investigative reporting on housing conditions on military bases.
The non-profit group Military Family Advisory Network fielded an online questionnaire from Jan. 30 to Feb. 6 for individuals currently living in privatized military housing or had within the past three years.
"Military families are living in dangerous situations with reports of the existence of black mold, lead paint, faulty wiring, poor water quality, pesticides, and a wide variety of vermin, insects, and other animals (e.g., bats, skunks, and squirrels) in their homes," MFAN wrote in its preliminary research report to the Senate Armed Services Joint Subcommittee on Personnel, Readiness, and Management Support.
The report added that "families report illnesses with life-long implications caused by poor housing conditions" and requests for remediation are "often denied or ignored."
Department of Defense spokesperson Heather Babb told ABC News that Military Housing Privatization Initiative projects are monitored by the military departments "to ensure adherence to the terms of the project ground lease and associated agreements." The companies which run the on-base housing are not Department of Defense contractors or paid by the U.S. military.
The projects "strive to provide quality housing, where military families will choose to live, that provides residents a safe and enjoyable living experience, to include addressing any resident concerns in a timely manner," she said.
Approximately 700,000 service members and their families live in homes operated by private companies on bases in partnership with the Department of Defense, according to Reuters.
Its investigation shed a light on the lack of oversight in privatized military housing, prompting several congressional hearings this year.
In addition to family members, the presidents of five of the top private military housing companies, as well as Department of Defense officials, were scheduled to testify before senators.
"Each Military Department has processes in place to resolve tenant issues with privatized landlords, starting with contacting the private partner and installation housing office," Babb said. "If that does not resolve the issue, the resident can approach the installation commander and/or the local inspector general to file their complaint."
"Military members and their families living in privatized housing receive the same rights as residents leasing housing off the installation. They can also file complaints through the state and local regulatory housing authorities, to include filing a lawsuit against the landlord."