Military families with family members who have a disability or require an accommodation frequently decide to live on base to take advantage of accessible housing options and community amenities that can accommodate their disability. Privatized military housing providers that build and manage military housing communities in the United States are dedicated to assisting these families as service members and their partners and children answer the call to serve our country.
Military Housing Association (MHA) members are committed to providing service members and their families with a safe, quality housing experience. These companies actively support the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), and strictly follow the applicable requirements of The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Supporting the needs of families with a disabled family member
As a father whose family was enrolled in the EFMP during my U.S. Army service, I know how important it is for families with members who have a disability and require access to suitable housing to address a disability-related need. The DoD developed the criteria for, and actively manages, identification and enrollment of families in the EFMP. The EFMP is intended to support families with members who have unique medical or educational needs that can range from life threatening medical issues to learning disabilities. Not every family enrolled in the EFMP requires ADA-accessible housing, and conversely not every military family that is eligible for ADA-accessible housing is enrolled in the EFMP. Privatized military housing providers work diligently to ensure that appropriate policies and processes are in place to support families with members who have a disability and require a reasonable accommodation or modification in connection with their housing, including those families enrolled in the EFMP.
Legacy homes built by DoD vs. homes built or renovated under the MHPI
Since the establishment of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), many neighborhoods of previously constructed homes have been conveyed to privatized military housing providers. The DoD approved the accessibility and adaptability requirements for all homes that were transferred to privatized military housing providers, and Military Housing Association (MHA) members have met or exceeded those requirements. As a result, MHA members have substantially increased the inventory of accessible or adaptable homes currently available to military families. In addition, privatized military housing providers, in coordination with the respective service branches, agreed that a specified number of the new homes that were constructed by the privatized military housing providers were either ADA-accessible or adaptable.
Educating residents about their rights while protecting their privacy
MHA members make every effort to inform families who are considering living in MHPI communities of their commitment to fair housing. This commitment includes efforts to place families living with disabilities (regardless of enrollment in EFMP) in homes that are fully accessible, or readily adaptable, and to provide other reasonable accommodations or modifications when requested. This includes paying for certain modifications where required by law.
In addition, MHA members remain committed to ensuring that EFMP families and all other residents enjoy all of the amenities made available to families residing in privatized military housing communities. For that reason, all areas open to the public – like leasing offices, community centers, playgrounds, and pools – have been designed and built by MHA members to comply with applicable accessibility standards.
MHA members also recognize the importance of safeguarding military families’ medical and personal privacy. The MHA members’ property management employees are trained to assess all disability-related requests for reasonable accommodations or modifications, in accordance with the FHA and will not (a) refuse to rent a home to a person with a disability or tell such a person that housing is not available when it is in fact available; (b) offer different rental terms or conditions to a person with a disability; (c) use different qualification criteria or applications for a person with a disability; or (d) discourage a person with a disability from inspecting a home or otherwise engage in unlawful steering tactics. Any documentation required to be provided by prospective residents will be requested in compliance with all applicable laws and in a manner that is intended to protect applicant privacy.
Enhancing neighborhoods and procedures to meet the needs of residents
As MHA members continually make upgrades to existing homes in privatized military housing communities, they are committed to identifying opportunities to improve military housing to ensure their communities meet every resident’s needs. The MHA encourages the service branches to develop enhanced procedures that will assist privatized military housing providers in ensuring that all military families have equal access to housing.
General John F. Campbell (U.S. Army-Ret.) serves as a senior adviser for the Military Housing Association. He graduated from West Point and served 37 years in the Army, his early years in the infantry and special forces assignments. He commanded troops at all levels and served as the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and as the Commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.