Military families need access to housing they can afford. Fully restoring the Basic Allowance for Housing to 100 percent across the board, and a comprehensive analysis of how rates are set, would be a meaningful step in the fight against economic insecurity.
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a monthly allowance designed to offset the cost of housing for service members. BAH is intended to be commensurate with market demands and is adjusted based on location, rank, and dependent status. For those living on base, the allowance is passed directly to the housing provider for repairs, new developments, operating expenses, and to cover property debts (e.g., mortgages).
Could troops get a 100% housing allowance Jan. 1? What that would mean
MFAN weighs in on a new DoD analysis, mandated by Congress, examining the feasibility of restoring troops’ housing allowance from 95% to 100%. “Military families, like all Americans, have felt the financial pressure from the pandemic, inflation, and a volatile housing market. But military families don’t have the option to hunker down and ride it out. They move due to military orders, on average, every 2.5 years.”
2015: With authority from Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD) implemented a cost-sharing measure in 2015. BAH was gradually adjusted to cover 95% with the intent that service members living on the economy will cover 5%. By law, Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) private partners are not permitted to charge more than BAH and had to absorb the cut.
2018: In the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress mandated that DoD pay lessees of privatized housing projects to lessen the financial effects of BAH reductions. It was reported by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the equation used was flawed—some companies were over/under paid.
2019: Military housing conditions are brought to the forefront, leading to the MHPI Tenant Bill of Rights, as well as increased transparency, oversight, and accountability.
2021: The process for setting allowances and calculating payments came into question, most notably by GAO. It remains unclear if housing allowances take the required dwellings into account when determining rates.
2022: DoD released the Taking Care of Our People memo and implemented temporary BAH rate increases in 28 Military Housing Areas (MHAs) across the country from October 1-December 31, 2022. These areas consisted of those who had experienced an average of more than 20 percent spike in rental housing costs above 2022 BAH rates.
2023: 2023 BAH rates took effect January 1, 2023 — representing an average increase of 12.1 percent — with an expectation that the cost-share for families would be between $82 and $184 each month.
Opinion: The impossible choice facing many of America’s military families
MFAN President Shannon Razsadin and National Military Family Association CEO Besa Pinchotti share the intersectionality of finances, food, and housing and outline a step the military can make in order to take care of its greatest asset — its people.
Representatives Strickland, Bacon Push to Fully Restore Service Member Housing Allowance
On April 6, 2023, U.S. Representatives Marilyn Strickland (D-WA10) and Don Bacon (R-NE02) introduced H.R. 2537 – Basic Allowance for Housing Restoration Act to address the housing crunch that service members and their families face. The legislation would mandate that the Department of Defense restore the full BAH benefit and increase access to affordable housing, on and off base.
Letter to U.S. House of Representatives
Over 35 military and veteran service organizations wrote to House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and House Committee on Appropriations (HAC) leadership on June 1, 2023, supporting the Basic Allowance for Housing Restoration Act.
Senators Warnock, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Affordable Military Housing Options
On June 7, 2023, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan bill that will help service members across the country obtain sufficient and affordable housing.
Letter to U.S. Senate
On June 30, 2023, dozens of military and veteran service organizations sent a letter of support for the BAH Restoration Act to Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and Senate Committee on Appropriations (SAC) leadership.