A company run by Rhode Island real estate developer John Picerne is facing complaints that it has rented substandard housing to hundreds of U.S. servicemen and women while earning millions from contracts with the military, according to an investigation by the news agency Reuters.
According to Reuters, Picerne’s company, Corvias Group, is one of the largest private landlords on U.S. military bases. Those servicemen and women pay millions of dollars a year in rent to live in that housing. The Corvias units are among 206,000 military houses under private management, part of a housing privatization initiative that began 22 years ago.
According to Reuters, this effort has improved the lives of service members and their families. But some servicemen and women accuse Corvias of renting them housing that is rife with mold, lead paint, discolored water, water damage and collapsing ceilings, the news agency said.
At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, a tenant petition accusing Corvias of neglecting homes and seeking to hold the company accountable has generated more than 2,000 signatures, according to the report.
Picerne declined to comment on specific tenant concerns, Reuters said.
In a statement to The Providence Journal on Friday night, Corvias acknowledged “serious concerns” raised by residents but added that, in most cases, repairs were underway within two days of an assessment, and some residents were offered alternative on-base housing while repairs were completed. The statement noted that Corvias has received high marks in resident satisfaction in annual reviews by two independent agencies.
“Our core mission at Corvias is clear: put service members and their families first,” the statement said.
Kelly Douglas, a Corvias spokeswoman, told Reuters that the company will begin a comprehensive review of service requests and how they are handled. “If there’s an area where we can improve or [if there’s] an unmet resident need, we want to make it better,” said Corvias’ statement to The Journal. “We want to hear about — and fix — any issues.”
In response to the story, the Army set up a phone hotline for service members with housing problems.
Reuters also conducted an earlier investigation that found a slew of health hazards in rented military homes — including mold and pest infestations in Navy and Marine Corps accommodations, and lead poisoning risks in Army housing. Following those articles, both Congress and the Department of Defense launched at least three probes into the allegations.