FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) – A “culture of concealment driven by corporate greed” – that’s how a new multi-million dollar lawsuit describes the company in charge of military housing at Fort Bragg.
Three military families filed the $5 million class action complaint against Corvias, the company the military signed a 50-year-lease with to manage on-base housing.
The families say their homes had major problems that did not get fixed, including a sagging roof, mold throughout the homes, lead-based paint, cracks, plumbing problems, rotting wood, and a hole in the ceiling where one of the plaintiffs says an employee fell through while working on repairs because the roof was too weak from prolonged damage to support the employee.
The lawsuit states: “Corvias conspired to conceal potentially harmful environments and structural housing defects from unsuspecting service members and their families, and failed to comply with applicable building and housing codes.”
The suit alleges that Corvias told workers to hide problems from tenants.
The homes are described as lacking “effective moisture and air barriers between exterior cladding and wall cavities.”
Military spouse Tamara Terry is not part of the lawsuit, but she says her family went through similar issues with Corvias.
“A lot of people have the same complaints, it’s just unfortunate that they get ignored a lot or go unresolved,” Terry said. “They were given so much money to either demolish or redo these homes, and they just didn’t, instead they did patch work.”
The lawsuit says there have been thousands of housing complaints over the years that did not get addressed, and that potentially thousands of additional people will be notified of the pending action.
It says a class action permits a large number of claims to be resolved in a single form, more efficiently.
Heather Fuller is one of the defendants listed in the lawsuit.
CBS 17 interviewed her last fall when the company announced it was investing $100 million to fix the housing issues.
She said they hired 52 new employees in 2019 to address the housing problems and to help renovate 280 Fort Bragg homes.
“We’ve had some challenges with staffing and we are working hard toward finding qualified staffing,” Fuller said in 2019. “We all make mistakes, we all make errors, we are just trying to ensure that things are completed for our residents.”
The complaint also says the tenants were fearful of withholding rent until repairs were done because “commercial vendors are aware that a single call to the service members chain of command will rectify any delinquency. Consequently, Defendants often prey on Plaintiffs’ fears of reprisal even when conditions within the rental homes merit no payment whatsoever.”
It also addresses a common experience among military families, that they don’t have much time to search for housing.
“For service members relocating across the country or from overseas, there is often little or no time to meaningfully review housing options at the new duty station before arriving on base.”
The complaint says kids had to sleep in air mattresses on the living room floor because of lead based paint and mold issues in their rooms.
It also says during one incident, workers came to look at repairs but did not complete them because “a violent fight erupted between the workers” in front of kids.
Tamara says the mold in her house made her family sick.
“Are they going to actually do something to try to fix these issues, or are we going to continue the cycle of insanity of over and over again taking you to court and nothing happening,” Terry said. “It says a lot to take them to court, but it’s happened before they still haven’t changed their actions.”
Corvias sent CBS 17 this statement Tuesday:
“Bragg Communities and Corvias are aware of the lawsuit. We dispute the allegations in the complaint, as will be detailed in a response to be filed at the appropriate time. We are committed to the safe housing needs of military service members and their families, and will continue to provide dedicated service to our residents.”