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Coming to housing: hardwood floors, new garages, air conditioning, and more

Updates on housing crisis here, too

Homes in Beachwood and Madigan will soon have their carports converted to garages. Photo credit:

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Renovations announced for Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) housing include new hardwood floors, new bathrooms and kitchens, and air conditioning to name a few.

JBLM Garrison and Lincoln Housing updated the local community during a Facebook town hall last week, providing insights on renovations, as well as following up on the housing crisis from last year.

Col. Skye Duncan, JBLM Garrison commander and NathanielStevens, the regional property manager for Lewis-McChordCommunities andLincoln Military Housing, spoke to roughly 1,000 viewers.

Currently, 1,100 homes in three base housing areas will receive "down to the studs" renovations to include new plumbing and electrical, upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms, air conditioning and hardwood flooring. These will take place over the summer in Heartwood, New Hillside and Davis Hill. Heartwood will also receive kitchen islands, Stevens said.

These renovations will be done as homes are turning over so families will not have to move out during this process.

Other changes across the base will include new fencing, parking improvements in the Greenwood multiplexes, and conversions of carports to garages in Beachwood and Madigan. The base still maintains a hefty waitlist for housing, Duncan said. COVID-19 does not preclude people from moving on to base once homes are available.

Stevens said some vacant homes on base are close to being ready for occupancy, with many more as renovations are completed.

Duncan said a recent survey at the Department of Army also concluded that JBLM needs more base housing. Stevens said in the future, new homes will be built in Meriwether; however, he did not provide a completion date.

Six families still remain displaced following the housing crisis last year after a series of news reports showing military families dealing with black mold, rodent infestations, water leaks and other persistent problems at several bases across the U.S. prompted the DoD to demand more from its privatized housing contractors. 

In December, lawmakers passed a new law mandating 15 expanded rights for military housing tenants, 12 of which Duncan said the base has already implemented. Duncan said coming online will be the opportunity for residents to receive a history of repairs in the home they occupy now or may want to occupy. Another issue of withholding rent from contractors was discussed. Stevens said, "The withholding rent piece isn't something that would happen." Duncan said implementation of that point is still being hammered out at DA. They didn't mention the other point not yet implemented.

Duncan said JBLM experienced fewer cases of mold, and instead had more problems related to faulty plumbing.

In news reports last fall, several JBLM families announced they are suing Lincoln Housing, claiming negative health issues related to mold in their base housing. They are represented by attorney Sonny Nguyen of Park Chenaur & Associates.

A new report on military housing released last month also found that the Defense Department oversight of housing still remains limited.

The General Accountability Office found there are not enough physical walk-throughs of housing units by military officials, problems with collecting feedback from military families on their concerns, and an overall lack of reliable data on the condition of privatized housing.

"The military departments each use a range of project-specific performance metrics to monitor private (housing) partner performance," the report states. "However, the indicators underlying the metrics ... may not provide meaningful information or reflect the actual condition of the housing units." 

During a press conference last summer at JBLM, housing officials announced that quality assurance representatives have been hired to inspect homes prior to new families moving in and coordinating efforts to remedy any concerns expressed.  

"We take (feedback) very seriously," Stevens said at that time. "It's very critical for us, and it helps drive future endeavors, future projects, and overall it just makes us better. So please keep it coming."

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