FORT HOOD, Texas — At least three times throughout 2019, Fort Hood families gathered at a town hall and spoke to III Corps Commanders, as well as the leadership of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hood, about the issues they faced in Fort Hood housing. Close to a year later, families told 6 News they have been disappointed.
"For our family, those town halls gave us a false sense of hope that someone would be able to step in and help us," Courtney Hamilton said.
Nine families filed a mass-action lawsuit Monday against Fort Hood Family Housing LP, FHFH, INC, and Lend Lease US Public Partnerships LLC, the private companies that run housing on Fort Hood.
Families told 6 News they believe post leadership cannot solve the mold problems and they are suing the companies for damages to hopefully create change.
6 News spoke with three military spouses Monday via Zoom about the mold issues in Fort Hood housing. The spouses reported some combination of symptoms that include rashes, migraines, nosebleeds and a variety of symptoms that affect younger children or children with special needs.
Courtney Hamilton lives in a hospitality suite on Fort Hood. Her family was displaced in August 2019 and have lived in a hotel, and later a Fort Hood hospitality suite. She said her family will need to buy a house so they have another option besides living on Fort Hood.
Sarah Kiernan's family asked to relocate to another home on Fort Hood that did not have mold issues after, according to the lawsuit, multiple health problems that impacted her pregnancy and forced Fort Hood Family Housing to put the family in a hotel room for three months. She said Fort Hood Family Housing could not find a suitable option.
"They didn't feel safe putting the baby in any of the homes that they tested for us and, I believe, they tested three homes and none of them came back safe enough for us to move into," Kiernan said.
Kiernan said her family was eventually moved to another post in Tennessee due to the lack of options.
But why is it that Fort Hood, the Great Place, cannot solve the mold issue? The lawsuit reveals several reasons why.
Fort Hood Family Housing is a private company owned by Lend Lease US Public Partnerships LLC. The Department of the Army is in a partnership with Fort Hood family housing, but they are what Fort Hood officials call a "minority partner" while Lend Lease US Public Partnerships is the "controlling partner."
After 6 News spoke to Attorneys Ryan Reed and Jim Moriarty, who represent the families, the team sent a letter from Major General Scott Efflandt to military spouse Emilee Smith that explained that "Although the Army has a partnership with Lendlease, it remains a private company and the Army lacks the authority to direct them to settle your claims."
Smith said that was the answer she got in a Zoom interview Monday.
"We escalated all the way up to the deputy commanding general," Smith said. "As a 49 percent partner their hands are tied and they cannot force a resolution."
This means U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hood can work with Fort Hood Family Housing in partnership but cannot control its policies.
Smith said her family had been displaced from their original home for 400 days. Each additional home had mold as well.
She asked Fort Hood's leadership to make Fort Hood Family Housing reimburse them for furniture and clothing lost to mold as well as healthcare costs. The families said the lawsuit is not just about getting reimbursed, but force chance for others still living in moldy homes.
"One hundred percent I want this to stop," Kiernan said. "I don't want any more military families to go through what we have gone threw. They have to properly take care of these homes and properly maintain them."
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