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Fort Hood, Lendlease celebrate $420M housing development while some families call it a 'slap in the face'

Posted at 7:49 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 20:49:32-04

FORT HOOD, TX — Fort Hood officials and representatives from Lendlease Inc. gathered together Thursday to celebrate the construction of a $420 million housing development. However, some Fort Hood families say the new construction is not enough.

In a press release, Fort Hood said the money will be invested in the "demolition of and subsequent new construction of nearly 600 new junior enlisted homes; roof replacements on more than 2,300 homes; and medium renovations at more than 1,300 homes."

”Today is awesome for Fort Hood. I’m Just lucky to be here, to be a part of it, as are all other soldiers and families,” said Lt. Gen. Robert White, Commanding General of III Corps and Fort Hood.

The Army calls the investment long overdue and something that will help improve the lives of soldiers and their families living on-post.

”We can’t do anything in our Army if we don’t take care of our people. If we don’t take care If our people it makes our life really, really hard. This is about taking care of people.” said Lt. Gen. White.

The ceremony was held to show how Fort Hood and Lendlease are working to fix housing problems on post.

”We enjoy a great partnership with Fort Hood Family Housing and with Lendlease, and today’s event is just an example of how they’re investing in family housing and holding themselves accountable,” said Col. Jason Wesbrock, U. S. Army Garrison Commander, Fort Hood.

However, families involved in a years-long lawsuit with Fort Hood Family Housing and Lendlease over living conditions call the ceremony offensive.

”Hearing them thanking the families at that ceremony felt like a slap in the face after all we’ve been through,” said Lorien Hart, a military spouse living on Fort Hood and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Hart also says she feels the ceremony was just a way for Fort Hood and Lendlease to make themselves look good and take attention away from the lawsuit.

”I’m so tired of being manipulated and gaslit by these people that say they want us to love them but don’t show us the respect we deserve,” she said.

Many of the families say the have been living with mold and other problems. They say they don't just blame Fort Hood Family Housing and Lendlease, but also the Army and Fort Hood.

”We feel alone and left out, and you say people are first here. But where is it first? When am I first? When is my family first?” said Kary Mesack, another plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Lendlease says they are not putting people into unsafe homes.

“All across our 40,000 home portfolio, we inspect every home before a new family moves in to make sure that during the change in occupancy that everything is being completed so that house is safe and a good quality home for all our residents,” said Phillip Carpenter, Chief Operating officer for Lendlease Communities..

Some families involved in the lawsuit acknowledge the massive investment into housing on Fort Hood. However, they feel only some problems are being addressed.

”I understand where they’re coming from, and it does seem like a step in the right direction. It’s just... funding was never an issue. It wasn’t that they had a lack of funds. It was a lack of accountability and oversight,” said Courtney Hamilton.

The lawsuit is ongoing, but Fort Hood says this investment is going to go a long way towards improving the lives of soldiers and their families.