Sen. Wicker addresses Kessler AFB housing concerns

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker stepped up to the plate today to dispute concerns over the military housing system at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

Wicker, who is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked the Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett to address multiple concerns caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that have had lasting effects.

When the hurricane hit, Wicker says almost all of the housing units had to be replaced. Of the 1,118 units 1,084 have experienced mold and mildew.

The mold and other damage followed issues with air conditioning systems and ductwork improperly installed by a private contractor.

When the issues are addressed, Wicker said efforts often fail to fix the problems and can disrupt the lives of service members for weeks at a time and the repair timelines are often extended multiple times before work is complete.

Wicker met with Barrett when she visited Keesler Air Force Base last week and cited in her opening statement to the committee an example of families being displaced as many as four times in recent years. Wicker said, “Why the multiple instances, and you mentioned a family that had to leave their residence four times and the problem still hasn’t been solved. Why is it that the remediation is often not getting done? Many of our troops are asked to move out to hotels because there’s not adequate housing for them to be in. One troop said he had to be out by 11 a.m. and then midafternoon as he sat in his car, he was told ‘It would be another two weeks you have to move back in.’ This is called being jerked around by the system.”

Wicker also asked Barrett to consider changing the statute for service members’ basic allowance for housing to account for higher homeowner insurance costs on the Coast.

The Air Force secretary committed to working with the committee to fix the issues at Keesler and other bases.

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