Senate to Investigate Reports of Unsafe Conditions in U.S. Military Family Housing

January 31, 2019, 1:33 PM UTC

Senators will be grilling the Department of Defense and private contractors and property managers over conditions in military family housing during a hearing scheduled for February.

Congress must “ensure that no soldier, airman, sailor, Marine or their families have to worry about the safety of their homes,” Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in a statement to Reuters.

Nearly 700,000 people live in such housing.

Over the last year, multiple Reuters reports have identified many different problems with military family housing, including construction flaws, rodents and mold, lead poisoning of children, and mistreatment by powerful landlords.

Separately, the DOD announced in 2018 that 126 military bases had water contamination with chemicals linked to cancers and developmental delays in children, the MilitaryTimes reported.

Military family housing has largely been privatized and is controlled by corporations. One example is Lincoln Military Housing, which owned and operated communities in Southern California and faced allegations by the Department of Justice that it illegally evicted active-duty servicemembers and their families, according to USMC Life.

In total, there are more than 206,000 military family homes under private management. One company, Corvias Group, owned by Rhode Island real estate developer John Picerne, controls more than 26,000 of them. Many residents have complained that the properties are poorly maintained and have such problems as flooding, burst pipes, mold, exposed lead, and brown water.

Fortune reached out to the company for a comment.

The congressional hearings won’t be the first government investigation on the matter. The Government Accountability Office has undertaken previous inquiries.