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Military Families Wait For Help With Mold, Other Housing Issues

A sign showing Lincoln Military Housing appears in this undated photo.

Credit: U.S. Marines

Above: A sign showing Lincoln Military Housing appears in this undated photo.

— Marine and Navy families were living in hotel rooms over the holiday, and many others say they are living in unsafe conditions while they wait for the private contractor Lincoln Military Housing to address mold issues in Murphy Canyon, a military housing facility in Tierrasanta.

Amanda Lopez is living in a hotel room with her husband, a Navy corpsman, and their three children.

“It’s very draining. It’s hard enough trying to stay on top of them, trying to keep up with them, because there are people below us. People next to us,” Lopez said.

The Lopez family had been living in Murphy Canyon, private military housing run by Lincoln Military Housing. They’ve been out of their home for weeks, and she hasn’t been told when they will be allowed to move back.

Lopez’s family is one of 27 San Diego military families in similar circumstances, according to the Navy.

Recently, a group of mothers met at a park outside Santo Terrace in Murphy Canyon. They were concerned about the impact mold has on their young children. Hope Scott’s young daughter was hospitalized repeatedly during the year they lived in Santo Terrace.

“She almost died two times in the year that we lived here,” she said. “And hospitalized eight times in nine months for respiratory problems. And housing never cared.”

A month ago, they were moved to a different home.

Around the country, there has been a growing pressure within each of the services to address problems with private military housing. In the past year, Congress has held hearings because of widespread complaints of mold, rodents and substandard conditions.

“I want them to do what is best for our families, even if that means coming in and gutting these homes,” Scott said.

Hope Bradley has become an unofficial spokesperson for some of the San Diego families. Mold is the most common concern in the Murphy Canyon. She said she wants to be able to withhold their basic allowance for housing, which normally comes out of their paychecks.

“We need the ability to say our homes are not safe,” she said. “Our homes are infested with rodents. Our homes are infested with mold. And to say, 'OK, we’re not paying rent for homes that are uninhabitable.'”

The commander of Naval Base San Diego, Capt. Mark Nieswiadomy, released a statement saying in part the Navy is aware of the mold issue in “some Murphy Canyon homes and have been fully engaged with Lincoln Military Housing.”

“If you feel your concerns are not being addressed, we want to hear from you,” his statement said.

Lincoln Housing released a statement saying the company has been changing their procedures over the last year.

“Mold is always taken very seriously, which is why qualified professionals address it,” the statement said.

In September, a San Diego jury awarded a Marine family $2 million in their lawsuit against Lincoln Housing.

Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

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