Warnock puts military housing under a microscope

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 4:04 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock is leading a new oversight effort to protect the nation’s service members from unsanitary, unsafe living conditions at military base housing facilities operated by Balfour Beatty Communities, his office said.

It follows a recent $65 million settlement between the U.S. government and the private housing company. It pleaded guilty to falsifying upkeep and resident satisfaction records and neglecting service members’ maintenance requests.

The company is one of the nation’s largest providers for privatized military housing, including at Fort Gordon.

Our I-Team helped expose unfit living conditions on post-repair requests, never answered, and families who have gotten ill while living in their housing units, a story that made national headlines.

In a new letter to the Department of Defense, Warnock and 16 of his Senate colleagues asked the department to provide additional information regarding how it will conduct proper oversight of the company’s private military housing communities.

The Senators’ letter pushes the Department of Defense for solutions in light of the recent settlement that will further protect servicemembers from poor and unkempt private housing, and regain service members’ trust in BBC’s privately-owned housing units across the country.

“Given that BBC continues to manage housing communities at 55 installations across the nation and has several decades left on their long-term contracts, we ask the following questions about how this settlement will affect the management of these properties and how DoD plans to ensure quality housing for military families moving forward,” the Senators wrote.

The DoJ resolution with BCC could impact multiple military installations across Georgia including: Fort Gordon, Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield, Moody Air Force Base and Kings Bay Naval Station.

“Our servicemembers and military families, who so dutifully serve our nation, shouldn’t have to worry about having safe, secure housing. It is shameful they had to deal with these poor living conditions in the first place. Housing is dignity, and I will continue pushing the federal government to make sure we’re doing everything we can to provide our courageous men and women in uniform, nd their families, with the resources and support they need not just to live, but thrive,” Warnock said. Warnock’s letter was signed by 16 senators including Mark Warner (D-VA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

As part of BBC’s plea agreement, BBC agreed to cooperate fully with the United States in all matters relating to the conduct covered by the plea agreement and other conduct under investigation by the United States, to self-report violations of U.S. federal criminal law, and to continue to implement a compliance and ethics program designed to effectively detect and deter violations of U.S. anti-fraud laws throughout its operations.

This resolution follows the prior entry of guilty pleas by two BBC managers. In April 2021, Stacy Cabrera, a former community manager of BBC, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In June 2021, Rick Cunefare, a former regional manager of BBC, pleaded guilty to major fraud against the United States.

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