February 21, 2020

Warren, Haaland Urge DoD to Model New Military Housing Quality Database After CFPB Consumer Complaint Database

NDAA Provision Written and Championed by Warren After Widespread Reports of Substandard Military Housing

Requires DoD to Establish New Resource for Servicemembers to Submit Complaints and Review Military Housing Quality

CFPB Database Has Successfully Resolved Nearly 1.5 Million Complaints, Helping Consumers, Agency and Public Over Past Decade  

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Ranking Member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, and Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to the Department of Defense (DoD) urging it to use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database as a model when implementing its new military housing quality database for servicemembers and their families.  The new, required housing quality database results from an amendment led by Senator Warren to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in response to widespread reports of substandard, privatized military housing for servicemembers.

This requirement was taken from a comprehensive oversight and reform bill introduced by the senator and Representative Haaland after Senator Warren conducted an investigation to address reports of shameful conditions at privatized military housing facilities nationwide.

“The military housing complaint database was designed to ensure accountability for housing contractors and provide military families with a ‘right to know’ about the quality of their housing and the records of the companies that run the housing facilities where they live, wrote Senator Warren and Representative Haaland. “As you implement this requirement and create and launch the database, we ask that you review and use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database as a model.”

In February 2019, after a series of investigative reports by Reuters exposed widespread problems with the substandard quality of privatized, on-base housing for military personnel, Senator Warren conducted an investigation of the problem, which revealed numerous problems. Senator Warren’s investigation found that private military housing providers did not have accessible or centralized records of complaints, making any comprehensive assessment and oversight of their performance difficult and complicated, and making it almost impossible for servicemembers and their families to learn about the quality of the facilities where they chose to live.  

In their letter, which was sent to Peter Potochney, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, Senator Warren and Representative Haaland urged DoD to model its new military housing database after the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database, which was established at the end of 2011 to provide an avenue for consumers to get answers from financial institutions about problems they experience with financial products and services. The database is a proven and effective tool that has helped consumers, the agency, Congress and the broader public over the last decade, and has helped consumers resolve more than 1.5 million consumer complaints—including 100,000 submitted by or on behalf of servicemembers.   

“A well designed database, which allows DoD to monitor complaints in real time will create the incentives for the companies to do right by their tenants and give DoD the tools to respond quickly if they do not,” Senator Warren and Representative Haaland continued.

Senator Warren and Representative Haaland also asked that DoD provide a briefing on the status of the database and plans for its launch by April 1, 2020.

In addition to the requirement that DoD establish a public complaint database on military housing, the FY2020 NDAA included several provisions from the Military Housing Oversight and Servicemember Protection Act, the comprehensive bill introduced by Senator Warren and Representative Haaland to increase oversight of private military housing providers, establish tenant protections, ensure medical care for affected residents, and strengthen needed ethics requirements.