Military families moving into privatized base housing will begin to pay rent that is one-percent higher than their normal Basic Allowance of Housing (BAH). This change comes from moves Congress made last month to dampen the value of BAH.
According to Stripes.com, Congress voted to allow BAH rates to be trimmed in two ways: by setting rates to cover only 99 percent, not 100 percent, of average rental costs for members’ pay grade and assignment area; also by no longer including in BAH added dollars to cover the expense of renter’s insurance in case personal property is damaged or stolen.
A Defense official, who declined to be named so he could speak more frankly about the changes, stated that military renters into housing on the economy and families moving into privatized base housing will be the ones to feel the effect of the dampened allowances. Both changes are reflected in BAH rates published Jan 1.
“The basic premise is that whatever is happening to everybody in town, whatever added burden they’re bearing whether it’s one percent [of average rental costs] out of pocket or absent renter’s insurance, then people on base will bear the same burden,” said the official.
Families living off base won’t see a drop in allowances unless they move to a new assignment or have to change residences because of a BAH rate protection rule. This rule also protects those already residing on the base and as long as they stay in current base housing they won’t have to pay rent in excess of monthly BAH.
In the near future, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy housing officials will notify members moving into privatized housing will have to pay rent equal to BAH plus one percent. The out-of-pocket cost will range from about $16 a month up to $25 a month.
The official goes on to explain that while two thirds of the privatized units either have relatively high BAH because they are in high-rent areas that have robust recapitalization accounts or have adequate maintenance and repair dollars, the final third has housing inventories in rural areas, mostly on or near Army and Air Force bases.
Over the next three years, these bases could potentially begin to see housing deteriorate if cash flows from renters are allowed to fall by three percent, after inflation.
“As far as we’re concerned it’s an equity issue,” the official said. “But it’s also a maintaining-quality-of-housing issue. And if you put those two together, it’s just obvious that’s what we should do.”
Now, the hard part will be getting renters on the base to understand or sign off on what’s going on.
Many of those living on base are questioning how this is a fair process, especially since many housing areas have been opened up to civilians and retirees. Camp Pendleton’s housing company announced last month that it would allow civilians to move on base and just yesterday, Camp Lejeune’s housing company announced they would also accept these folks.
Most of the civilians moving on base are already paying lower BAH than the military member. How is this fair to active duty families?
What about those families that pay a higher BAH to live in a neighborhood designated below their rank because of housing waiting lists? Certainly, they’re paying hundreds of dollars more monthly than their neighbors.
What about those families receiving allowances to take sub-par housing?
These questions are going to need answers soon.