Fitzpatrick offers bipartisan legislation to ensure safety of U.S. military housing

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) introduced bipartisan legislation last week to address the health, safety and environmental hazards at private United States military housing units.

“Service members and their families sacrifice immensely to protect our freedom and they deserve quality housing,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said last week.

The Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act, H.R. 1792, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA), also would prohibit the payment by members of the Armed Forces of deposits or other fees related to military housing units, according to the congressional record.

If enacted, H.R. 1792 also would strengthen accountability and oversight of private contractor-provided housing for U.S. military families, according to information provided by Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office on March 14.

“These new guidelines seek to ensure that health and safety issues are properly addressed while putting reckless contractors on notice,” the congressman said.

Rep. Levin called it “unacceptable” that military families have had limited or zero recourse in situations where private contractors have provided substandard housing. 

“This bipartisan legislation is an important step in holding private housing companies accountable and empowering military families,” he said.

Among several provisions, H.R. 1792 also would authorize an installation commander to withhold payment of a service member’s housing allowance until a military housing official has inspected an environmental, safety or health hazard and verified that any fixes have been satisfactorily made and agreed to by the service member, according to Rep. Fitzpatrick’s summary of the bill.

If a specific hazardous case required a service member to leave the housing unit, then the bill proposes that all relocation costs be paid for by the housing company, according to the summary.

Additionally, H.R. 1792 would require contractors to reimburse service members for damage to their private property caused by a hazard and would authorize the U.S. Defense Secretary to withhold incentive fees paid to any contractor who persistently fails to fix hazardous conditions, according to the summary.

H.R. 1792 has been referred to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee for consideration.