WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLOX) - Keesler Air Force Base says it will continue to be transparent as it takes steps to resolve its military housing issues.
Keesler released a statement Tuesday after it was brought up by Sen. Roger Wicker in Washington, D.C. Wicker joined other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to highlight housing issues on military bases nationwide.
“We have an unusual situation at Keesler in that Katrina hit and almost all of our 1,188 housing units had to be replaced in one fell swoop," said Wicker. “Of the 1,188 residences there, 1,084 actually have experienced moisture and mold.”
Senator Roger Wicker asked the U.S. Air Force to hold a magnifying glass to the substandard housing conditions at Keesler Air Force Base. Wicker says the new homes have since been plagued by mold and moisture damage due to air conditioning systems and ductwork that were poorly installed by private contractors. Efforts to fix these issues have displaced families for weeks at a time.
Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett said in her opening statement: “As these families prepared for Thanksgiving, they wondered whether they should decorate a Christmas tree in their temporary homes or rely upon the latest promise that they would return to their permanent homes in time for their holiday."
Wicker’s concerns include the common delay of repair timelines, how often units scheduled for repair had gone days without work being done, and why efforts have been consistently ineffective.
“Family disruptions and health challenges are profoundly personal and impactful to these families, and therefore to us," said Barrett.
The Air Force Secretary committed to working with the committee to fix the issues at Keesler and other bases.
Keesler Air Force Base issued a statement in response to the hearing:
“We continue to work with our privatized housing partners to respond to and resolve military housing issues in a transparent way. Our top priority is to provide a safe, secure and healthy environment for our Airmen and their families, so we welcomed the opportunity to show Secretary Barrett our privatized housing. The visit focused on local initiatives that the housing partners have implemented to improve maintenance procedures, as well as how we have incorporated leadership oversight and empowered our housing residents to address any safety and security concerns. Progress has been made, but there is still room for improvement. Keesler and Air Force leadership will continue to advocate for our Airmen and their right to safe, secure, and healthy living conditions.”
READ WLOX’S SPECIAL SERIES INTO THE INVESTIGATION OF DEADLY CHEMICALS AT KEESLER AFB: