Schumer visits West Point, says military housing repairs needed
By MICHAEL RANDALL | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: June 22, 2019
HIGHLAND FALLS, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — Sen. Chuck Schumer said Friday that America's military families should not have to live in housing that is moldy or leaky.
But some families at West Point and other military installations across the country have faced those and other problems in their privatized housing units, he said.
Schumer is calling on the Senate to quickly pass the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which he said contains funding and other provisions to correct those problems.
"They should be given the best," Schumer said, speaking outside West Point's Thayer Gate on Main Street in Highland Falls.
The Senate is due to begin debating the legislation next week.
There have been media reports of health and safety concerns found at privatized military housing on a number of bases over the past year.
At West Point, what was described at the time as a focused inspection of more than two dozen homes last November found visible mold in nine homes and the potential for water intrusion at 14 homes. Clogged gutters and standing water around foundations were observed at some homes.
"If that is representative, there could be as many as 400 homes with mold at West Point," Schumer said.
West Point has 825 privatized homes, with 67 currently vacant, according to Schumer.
Schumer said black mold has been found to be responsible for a number of health problems, including respiratory illness.
The inspections at West Point were triggered by some former families who reported their concerns at an Association of the U.S. Army Conference last year.
Tests for lead-based paint and asbestos, two other problems reported at other bases, were negative at West Point, and radon levels were below those at which the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking action.
The problem is "not limited to West Point," Schumer noted.
He said there are more than 16,000 privatized military housing units across the nation, and in one survey 55 percent said they had a negative or very negative experience in that housing.
Schumer said the 2020 NDAA would authorize spending $301.8 million, including hiring new staff to conduct thorough inspections, oversight and planning for privatized military housing. The legislation also would establish a tenants' bill of rights for residents of such housing, and a dispute resolution process to help families address hazards in their homes.
The latter provision also might provide relief for families who had to spend money out of their own pockets to correct problems, Schumer said.