JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD -- It’s something no one wants to find inside their home: black mold. At least 46 military families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have moved out of their homes on base after finding mold where they live.
Melissa Godoy is a military mother and wife stationed at JBLM who is now taking action after she says her complaints went unheard for months.
A private Facebook group that she created online has hundreds of complaints from other military families at JBLM experiencing similar issues with mold.
“The whole world needs to know how they’re treating these military families,” Godoy said.
Melissa and her family moved into on-base housing at JBLM in July 2018 and she says within a few months she started noticing water leaks in her home.
“I wiped it off and thought maybe it was an ice cube or something,” Godoy said. “I wiped it away and then an hour later it came back and I said 'Ok, there’s a leak.'”
Maintenance records obtained by Q13 News show that Godoy put in several maintenance requests for her home to be fixed. After maintenance crews came out to her home, she says they spent several hours working and then told her the problem was solved.
“They were very vague and said 'No your house is fine' and left,” said Godoy.
In the meantime, Melissa says she and her two children were repeatedly visiting the doctor.
“Constant illnesses; I’ve had bronchitis twice, and a mysterious upper respiratory infection that left me with a cough,” she said. "June and July were my worst months, I had to quit boxing and was training to be an amateur female boxer."
Lincoln Military Housing is the property management company who contracts with JBLM to run their military housing. Melissa says she contacted LMH’s staff several times to come check for mold in her home.
“I’m like 'Do you guys smell that?' They’re like 'No you’re fine, you’re fine,'” said Godoy.
Fed up and frustrated, that’s when Melissa says she took matters into her own hands.
“I pried off the trim and I was really careful because I was like my husband is going to have to put this back on,” Godoy said. “I pulled it out and picked it up and there was black mold and 'Oh my God, I still get mad.'”
Melissa says immediately after the mold discovery, she called maintenance crews back out to her home and recorded video of the visit.
Q13 News reached out to Lincoln Military Housing for comment on this issue. A representative confirmed that at least 46 families have now been moved into a hotel on base after complaining about conditions inside their home. A portion of the statement reads:
“We regret when anyone is unsatisfied and are working to remedy this situation, but it is critical to understand that nearly all these residents decided to move to temporary housing on their own, and were not moved because of any known health and safety issues at their properties. We are covering the cost of their temporary accommodations until our staff and independent mold inspectors can determine if mold remediation is needed and if so until that remediation is complete.”
As for Melissa Godoy’s case specifically, Lincoln Military Housing says they’ve now retained a third-party mold remediation company to conduct an inspection on Melissa’s home. There is no current timetable for when her home will be fixed.
Officials at JBLM also released a statement to Q13 News that reads, in part:
“We identified and addressed some problems, and in some cases, families were moved into temporary accommodations if repairs required more time. Placing families in temporary housing is a standard practice, and it's the right thing to do to support our military families.”
They go on to say:
“LMH pays for temporary lodging and meal expenses ($30 per person per day) when families are displaced. The $30/person/day is paid within several days of the family being moved into temporary accommodations.”
For Godoy and her family, who have been staying in a hotel since Aug. 1, she says this situation has been tough on many single military income families like hers.
“This is financially burdensome,” said Godoy. “This is a direct blow to the service member, the actual people who put their life on the line and have volunteered for their country."
Here is the full statement from JBLM:
In conjunction with a DOD-wide review of on-base privatized military housing in February, JBLM leaders and our partner, Lincoln Military Housing, assessed 5,159 homes on JBLM. We identified and addressed some problems, and in some cases, families were moved into temporary accommodations if repairs required more time. Placing families in temporary housing is a standard practice, and it's the right thing to do to support our military families. While we recognize this is above the service level you would typically encounter when renting a house in any other part of the state, Lincoln Military Housing (LMH) supports this program wholeheartedly. LMH pays for temporary lodging and meal expenses ($30 per person per day) when families are displaced. The $30/person/day is paid within several days of the family being moved into temporary accommodations. This stipend is on top of their military pay and military-provided Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) which continues regardless of housing location.
This year, JBLM leaders established a program where Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) were assigned to all of the housing areas on the installation. These NCOs serve as the link between the residents, the command and LMH, helping to identify, track and assist in resolving housing issues. Additionally, JBLM leaders conduct quarterly housing town hall meetings where residents are able to discuss their issues and concerns directly with the senior leadership on the installation. The command also conducts a monthly senior leadership housing review where they receive status updates and discuss courses of action to resolve ongoing housing issues.
In the event that additional residents identify maintenance-related issues in their homes they should continue to contact LMH and open work orders. This process is well understood and followed, and LMH has a professional and responsive team that tracks to completion every work order they receive. Families should also inform their unit representative and chain of command so that their leadership can track the work order's progress and support the family during the repair process. An added benefit of military service is that the military chain of command supports the service member and the family through any and all life circumstances, including their housing. If LMH and the military determine that a family should displace to allow full repairs to their home, in most cases, after repairs are complete, families move back into their original homes. In a few instances families have moved into another house if repairs are extensive or too time-consuming that they would egregiously impact the family.
JBLM is 100% committed to the health and welfare of all service members, civilian employees, and family members working and living on base, and we will continue to work with Lincoln Military Housing to ensure that our community receives the best quality housing available.