U.S. Senate investigation alleges harmful living conditions at military bases in Georgia and Texas
A U.S. Senate investigation alleges ongoing abuses in military housing at Fort Gordon in Augusta.
Balfour Beatty Communities, one of the largest private providers of American military housing, already has admitted to a troubled history. Last December, the company pleaded guilty to fraud after the U.S. Department of Justice found it falsified maintenance reports.
In a report released Tuesday, a bipartisan Senate investigation led by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia claims the company may be continuing those practices.
The report says the company seems to have hidden complaints about mold, often logging them as “painting issues.” After six months of calling about a leak, one family’s ceiling collapsed.
The investigation detailed stories from one family based at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and eight others at Georgia’s Fort Gordon.
U.S. Army Captain Samuel Choe testified before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which Ossoff chairs, that his eight-year-old daughter developed rashes and hives shortly after they moved to Fort Gordon in late 2019.
Her doctor connected the issues to mold likely in the home. But despite Choe’s requests to Balfour Beatty, he said the property manager never addressed the mold. His daughter now has a severe skin condition even though the family terminated their lease in early 2021.
“I don’t know how to convey to you any more strongly how much this has impacted her,” Choe said. “Her sense of self, her sense of worth, of who she is, has forever been changed.”
In the company’s testimony, Balfour Beatty disputed that its housing caused the young girl’s condition.
Balfour Beatty’s Operations president Richard Taylor maintained that the company has taken actions to not repeat the previous fraud. He said the company does still make mistakes. But it works to fix those mistakes when discovered.
He reminded the Senate committee that Balfour Beatty controls more than 40 thousand units.
“I reject the suggestion that it’s a systemic failure,” Taylor said.
As part of the company’s 2021 settlement, it had to pay more than $65 million, roughly half in criminal fines and half in restitution, to the U.S. Military.