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Concerns Over Private Military Housing Touch Camp Pendleton

Leslie Tumlinson, who lives on on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, sits at a...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: Leslie Tumlinson, who lives on on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, sits at a table with photos that show rodent and spider infestation she experienced in military housing.

Congress has been looking into complaints from people who live in private military housing.

Some of the people living in military housing say the government has been slow to focus on their concerns.

Originally, Leslie Tumlinson was excited to move into private on-base housing on Camp Pendleton. In 2017, she said she remembers waking when she heard her two-year-old daughter crying.

“I walked over to the hallway and I flipped the switch up in the hallway and there were just tons of mice just running down my hallway. You could see them coming out of the rooms, just scampering down the halls,” she said.

Her husband, a Marine, was deployed during the time when the mice invaded their four-bedroom home. The couple has four children, all of them younger than high-school age. Tumlinson took the children to her mother’s home for the night. The next morning, she found dropping throughout the house.

“Everything was just covered in mouse, rodent droppings, urine,” she said.

Tumlinson took pictures. She even kept the contents of the vacuum. Lincoln Military Housing runs all of the private on-base housing. The company sent an exterminator, and a maintenance crew, but the mice kept coming, she said. This happened in March 2017. The family continued living there through the long-hot summer, even after she asked a representative from Lincoln Housing to move them somewhere else on base.

“We asked to be moved, because it was so bad. She said we couldn’t move. There was nowhere to move us to,” Tumlinson said.

She contacted the local health department, who said they couldn’t help her because she was living on base.

“I have all these pictures,” Tumlinson said. “I quite literally living in an uninhabitable home. If they would have come here, they would have pretty much condemned the home. And you’re telling me you can’t help me. That was a huge blow.”

That’s when she found out military families have little leverage over the private companies that run military housing.

Congress is now debating a tenant’s bill of rights. Among other things, it would give base commanders the ability to withhold rents until the private contractor resolves an issue.

Lincoln eventually found the family a replacement home. In October 2017, they were moved to a newer home on another part of the base. The move came after Tumlinson started telling people about her case on social media.

Congress has been hearing from families around the country, after a series of articles by Reuters. The Navy and Marines have said they will inspect any home where the tenant requests an inspection and set an April 15 deadline for commanders to complete those inspections.

Lincoln Military housing issued a statement from CEO Jarl Bliss which says in part, “We welcome and encourage military families to raise issues about their housing and we regret when even one family is dissatisfied with our performance.” The statement goes on to say, “We are also seeking input from residents and the Navy and are committed to improving the living experience in all our base housing."

Reported by Steve Walsh

Congress is debating whether to give tenants of private military housing additional rights after a receiving complaints from military families around the country.

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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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