Warner calls military housing ‘atrocious,’ vows action for families

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) met with families in Newport News Monday morning about issues with military housing.

It was a fact-finding meeting, similar to what Sen. Tim Kaine did last Friday near Naval Station Norfolk.

Warner called the families’ stories awful, and said they sounded like something out of a bad movie.

“I’m sorry,” Warner said to 12 military membes and spouses during the discussion. “This is not right. You and your spouses are protecting our country and we owe you a better product.”

They told him about substandard living conditions – leaking roofs, HVAC systems not working, and virtually all of them had a story about mold. But the families say the housing companies and their contractors are in total denial about mold — to the point where they wouldn’t even use the word.

Josh Sickles, a who is in the U.S. Navy, said, “That’s what a contractor said that was called into work on our house. He said we’re not allowed to use that word.”

Sickles lives with his family in Midway Manor in Virginia Beach, a Lincoln Military Housing community.

Two families told Warner that maintenance workers refer to mold as “suspicious discoloration.”

For Whitney Jones, a veteran and wife of a Navy chaplain, it was a little more exotic. She put out traps to stop an infestation of crabs at their home at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. Then she saw a large snake, and then more snakes.

“A total of about five baby snakes that I had found, and a couple of them got stuck to the traps.”

“I mean snakes in the basement, it sounds like a bad movie,” Warner said.

One woman, who was expecting a baby, says her management company ignored her doctor’s order to move her to a single-story unit.

“After finding out I was pregnant, I had my first fall down the stairs, and I lost my baby,” said Rachel McClain, a Navy wife who lives in Lincoln Military Housing.

Warner says eight contractors provide most of the military housing across the country, and he wants answers. Lincoln, Balfour Beatty and Hunt are the primary providers in Hampton Roads.

“They’ve already been called on the carpet. I want to see their specific business plans, and how they are going to address these issues, I mean this is horrible.”

Warner says he’ll contact the service secretaries, and then get back in touch with the military families within 10 days. Then, he’ll schedule another face-to-face meeting in mid to late April to let them know what progress is being made.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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