WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force met with privatized housing project owners at the Pentagon, Oct. 2, to discuss the status of actions being taken to reform the delivery of privatized housing under the Military Housing Privatization Initiative.

Defense officials said that the secretaries reinforced their commitment to working with MHPI partners to ensure resident concerns are addressed in a responsive, timely and professional manner, with an emphasis on potential health or safety issues. They also recognized the need for more consistent affirmation of military families' rights as residents of privatized housing, which, the officials noted, will be underscored in the soon-to-be-released MHPI Resident Bill of Rights.

The group discussed progress made on the collective actions established by the department and the partners to address concerns raised by some residents in MHPI housing, defense officials said.

These actions include:

-- Establishing a resident bill of rights and common lease framework
-- Increasing transparency and reporting of service work orders
-- Enhancing ongoing oversight and leader engagement on the program
-- Improving communication with residents at all levels

One element of improved communication is already underway -- expanding the role of installation leaders for resident advocacy and dispute resolution, the defense officials noted.

The officials said the secretaries collectively share a commitment to ensure safe, high quality and affordable housing and communities where service members and their families will want -- and choose -- to live.

MHPI is the largest and one of the most mature public-private partnership efforts in DOD, officials said. The initiative has improved family housing on military installations in the U.S., they noted. There are about 80 privatized projects encompassing more than 204,000 units located on more than 150 installations.

Privatization was the right thing to do, defense officials said. It addressed DOD's $20 billion maintenance backlog by leveraging private sector expertise and funding at a rapid pace, the officials said. It achieved more than $32 billion in private development with about $4 billion in DOD contributions, they said.

Privatized housing occupancy averaged 93% over the last three years, defense officials added, which they said indicates that military families are choosing on-base privatized housing over off-base private sector choices.