NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) says he “got an earful” Friday afternoon about living conditions in private military housing, speaking with families who live near Naval Station Norfolk.
“Military families shouldn’t be living at standards that are below the standards that are in all the housing that surrounds the military base.”
Kaine says people who live in private military housing have problems that never seem to get solved.
He spoke with a family with a newborn.
“There’s unacceptable ventilation with a next door unit and the smell of smoke pervades their unit, even though they’re non-smokers. They worry about secondhand smoke effect on their baby.”
Others Kaine talked to say their homes weren’t livable even from day one. He described a family’s account of moving into a unit that hadn’t been cleaned and two of the three toilets didn’t work.
“Did somebody even check, did somebody even walk through this place?” Kaine asked.
And even when the housing firms did respond, Kaine says the solution was almost worse than the problem, as in the case of a family with mold.
“Having somebody come out and painting it over, or trying to sand it – are you kidding me?”
Kaine is sponsoring a bill with fellow democrats Mark Warner, Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris that would withhold payments for contractors, and stop incentive payments to firms that don’t correct sub-standard conditions.
Kaine says it’s up to military leadership to keep them in line and the commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic agrees.
“Although we can outsource our privatized housing, we can’t outsource our responsibility and obligation of leadership,” said Rear Admiral Charles “Chip” Rock, who said there’s a direct connection between family readiness and military readiness.
The senate votes next week on President Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a border wall with Mexico. Kaine opposes using military money – as much as $6 billion, some of which could go to improve housing – for what he calls a non-military emergency.