The company that manages military housing across much of the United States is under fire by US Marine families for squalid living conditions- and the agency in question appears to be in complete denial over the matter.
A government-contracted company, Lincoln Military Housing provides living spaces for around 36,000 military family homes, covering locations ranging from Marine and Naval bases on the coasts to the Army’s Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
However, living conditions on Marine installations have been notably poor, forcing military families to step forward and speak out to the media.
According to Reuters, the Department of Defense has been aware of the unsafe housing conditions for several years, to include inspections by the Inspector General, who found serious health and safety issues that included lead-based paint and mold.
While IG suggested that there be more oversight of privatized military housing, the DOD rejected the recommendations, claiming that such practices would increase costs and impose upon the private companies providing housing.
In light of inaction, social media has proven to be a powerful weapon for military families, who post pictures of flooded houses, moldy walls, scores of dead rodents, animal feces and even mushrooms growing from carpet.
Marine spouse Crystal Cornwall told USMC Life that the military has failed to hold LMH accountable, especially in light of dwindling retention numbers.
“I’m appalled at [the military’s] blatant and negligent disregard for the health and safety of their Warfighters and their families,” she said. “They have a serious retention issue on their hands..The best and brightest have choices. Will they choose the military under these conditions?”
Cornwall then provided horrific photographs and videos from LMH housing around the country, including bathtubs filled with mud-like water, rats stuck in traps and even mold blooms overtaking entire walls.
For Marines, the photos would likely hit home- the majority were from California’s Camp Pendleton and Quantico, which is located in Virginia.
Cornwall also spoke with Reuters, and has since allegedly been blocked from communicating on LMH’s Facebook page.
In response to the Reuters article, Lincoln Military Housing released a statement on Thursday, claiming that the story “contains numerous inaccuracies and omitted important facts, resulting in an inaccurate picture of the housing and services that we, and other private partners working with the U.S. military, provide.”
“Military families have many options of where they want to live, with less than 30% residing in our housing at the installations we serve,” LMH President Jarl Bliss wrote in a statement. “Lincoln must compete for their business, we do this by striving each day to offer high-quality homes, modern communities with amenities like fitness centers, pools, and parks, and an array of other support services designed specifically for military families- as well as excellent service.”
Bliss went on to claim that “Reuters cites represents only a very small fraction of our residents,” and insisted that every effort is made to provide quality living conditions.
When the statement was posted to LMH’s Facebook page, however, outraged residents told a different story.
“We lived in LMH for a year abroad Camp Pendleton,” Heather Howland wrote. “We were sick almost that entire year- probably the mold and poor circulation of the home in general. We bought a home and moved…And my neither kids nor I have been that sick since.”
Other complaints were examples of the bizarre living conditions.
“We had mold, rats in the ceiling, roaches, and once we even had a tree grow between the floor and wall in our living room!” Kate Miller Stap wrote “There was a gas leak when we move in, I was 9 months pregnant and they told me it was fine/normal.”
However, one recurring trend involved the amount of individuals who claimed LMH’s Public Relations team were deleting the majority of negative comments.
“Why are you hiding and deleting comments?” Sarah Kline asked. “I think if you publicly start a conversation, you should likely finish it. Or is it that your PR team is as incompetent as your local management staff and made a bad choice to share this release?”
“Look at how many posts went missing,” Katie Horton responded. “Guess [LMH PR team] is deleting any she doesn’t agree with. Big surprise that Lincoln Military Housing HIDES issues to make themselves look better.”
In one post, a LMH-housed spouse attempted to tag Crystal Cornwall, only to receive the bad news.
“They deleted and blocked her,” Kelli Malone said.
LMH has yet to comment to inquiries made by USMC Life.
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