Military housing complaints reach a boiling point at Fort Lee

Poor living conditions at Fort Lee

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Mushrooms are growing up from the floor of military family housing at Fort Lee and is causing the people who live there to suffer.

Leticia Lewis and her military husband moved to the base with their 5-year-old son last April.

Within a month, Lewis said she placed 10 work orders. Lewis and her son both have asthma and soon began to suffer stomach illness and sinus infections.

“Not only am I asthmatic, but my 5-year-old is asthmatic. I’m a diabetic, and when I get sick, I just don’t get better over time,” Lewis said. "I had begged and begged for my air ducts to be cleaned. I begged to have a air quality test done. They took forever to get my air ducts cleaned. They kept denying me to have an air quality test telling me and my husband that we have to come out of pocket.”

Lewis says she is not paying that expense herself.

The issue is not with the base itself. Housing at Fort Lee is run by a private company called Hunt Military Communities.

Also, Fort Lee is not the only place where this type of problem has occurred in military housing. In fact, the issue is so widespread that it has been the subject of Congressional hearings related to mold, lead and leaks in military housing run by private companies across the country.

Fort Lee recently held a town hall meeting for those serving at the base to make everyone aware of the ongoing problem.

Mushrooms grow up from under the carpet in housing at Fort Lee in Petersburg.
Mushrooms grow up from under the carpet in housing at Fort Lee in Petersburg. (Source: Viewer photo)

The family with mushrooms growing from the floor is seeing issues get addressed. Military leaders moved the family into a hotel. Leticia Lewis, her military husband and young son moved into their home last April.

She hasn’t paid for the testing and says she won’t. Hunt workers did come out and cleaned the air ducts, installed a dehumidifier among other things.

Leticia says a difficult situation grew more unpleasant when she found mushrooms outside her bathroom. She posted photos to Facebook and it was shared more than 1,000 times.

Leticia says after she discovered the mold and mushrooms growing, it took Hunt three weeks to respond.

“I honestly believe if those mushrooms didn’t grow we would probably still be like, breathing that stuff in," she said.

There was a leak between the shower wall and bedroom wall. She says that also has been repaired and new carpet has been installed.

There’s now a constant worry, she says, with how long it takes to get housing problems corrected.

“Military families shouldn’t be treated this way by private contractors," she said. "My husband has served 14 years in the Army. His family shouldn’t be treated this way.”

NBC 12 reached out to Hunt Military Communities. A representative returned a phone call, but has not yet spoken about this report.

The Garrison Commander at Fort Lee says leadership met with representatives from Hunt and corrective measures are being taken including the suspension of some fees that families view as a hardship.

Leticia says she and her husband are not worried about retaliation.

“No. Ma’am. Come for me. I want you too. This is my health,” she said. "This is my life. My son’s life. My husband’s life. I’m not the only one going through this. It’s a worldwide thing with these privatize housing. Command has really stepped in. It’s the housing companies.”

In a letter to Fort Lee families, the Garrison Commander is encouraging residents to be vocal and to call Hunt first to tell them what’s going on.

Military leaders are also scheduling walk-throughs for those who still feel their housing issues haven’t been properly addressed. A hotline number has been setup for military families to call at 804-734-6300.

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