The Military Housing Roundtable (MHR) held its third quarter meeting on August 3, 2022. The primary goal of the MHR is to support all military families in their homes regardless of where they choose to live and to ensure access to affordable, equitable, and safe housing.
A legislative assistant for U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) outlined the congressman’s work on issues affecting the military community, such as healthcare and homelessness.
Dr. Ruiz’s staff member shared that recent studies suggest that homelessness nationwide has decreased, yet homelessness among veterans in California’s 36th congressional district has increased.
As a physician and member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Dr. Ruiz noticed a gap in services for homeless veterans and authored the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Act in May 2022. The bill would expand access to Veterans Affairs’ (VA) homeless outreach services for all veterans, including those who received other than honorable discharges and reauthorize benefits for five years.
UNPACKING HOUSING Data
An MFAN researcher dug into housing findings from our latest national survey – the 2021 Military Family Support Programming Survey. This presentation provided insight into military families’ housing burden, privatized military housing resident satisfaction rates, reasons for living on base vs. off, and more.
- For the first time in the survey’s iteration, MFAN asked respondents how much of their monthly income (including BAH) they spent on rent, mortgage, or utilities. Sixty percent (60.9%) of military and veteran family respondents carry the burden of paying more than they can comfortably afford for housing.
- The influence of the housing market ranked in the top five reasons for living on base in 2021, having never appeared in previous surveys. Poor conditions in military housing have been the most cited reason for choosing to live off base.
- Those in privatized military housing had negative or very negative perceptions of current living conditions. But, in a drastic change from 2019, had the highest satisfaction levels with housing companies’ responsiveness to repair issues, with 51.8% reporting positive or very positive experiences.
- Forty percent (39.9%) of respondents were unaware of Military Housing Privatization Initiative’s Tenant Bill of Rights. Of the 60.1% of respondents who were aware, only 10.6% had actually used the bill of rights.
Housing Policy and Impact Roundup
Blue Star Families’ chief of staff provided an update on housing related policy:
- Representative Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (GA) have introduced military housing legislative packages which include the BAH Calculation Improvement Act and BAH Restoration Act, and inclusion in the House and Senate versions of the NDAA.
- The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a legislative hearing in May 2022 to discuss the Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Act introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12). The bill would enhance VA’s home loan program by streamlining the home buying process for veterans and their families.
- In August, Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Thom Tillis (NC), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the Military Housing Readiness Council Act, to ensure oversight and accountability on safe housing conditions for service members and military families. Specifically, the legislation would create a Military Housing Readiness Council to monitor housing quality.
Funded by Wells Fargo, the Military Housing Roundtable convenes housing leaders and advocates and builds on best practices to develop and recommend policy and programmatic solutions. The MHR currently consists of more than 30 public and private organizations with a vested interest in ensuring affordable, equitable, and safe housing for military and veteran families.
To learn more, recommend a discussion topic, or submit a presentation request, contact Derek Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.