Defense Authorization Bill Protects Core Military Housing Benefit
A key House subcommittee has rejected a Department of Defense (DoD) proposal to cut back the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), a core military benefit that compensates service members for their housing costs. However, this is a preliminary achievement as Congress is just beginning to authorize defense programs and spending for the coming year through the annual National Defense Authorization Act.
The Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request included a five percent reduction to the BAH and eliminated the stipend for renter’s insurance. Those changes would have increased the out-of-pocket housing expenses for one million troops, impacting apartment communities that serve the military. The BAH provides critical funding stability for the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, which has successfully transitioned a large portion of severely-deficient government-run housing into high-quality privately-owned and operated properties. NAA/NMHC military housing providers are concerned that a BAH reduction would reduce the income stream for these projects and jeopardize the continued success of the program.
While the Pentagon has argued that the military must confront rising personnel costs to combat budget challenges, NAA/NMHC, service member advocates and others asked lawmakers to reject any changes. Instead, Congress and the DoD were asked to wait until a comprehensive military compensation and benefits review currently underway is completed. Those findings are scheduled to be released next February.
The House appears unlikely to move on BAH changes this year, however, the Senate has not yet started their authorization process and the outcome is still uncertain. NAA/NMHC will continue to raise awareness among lawmakers about the negative impacts of a BAH reduction and to stress the importance of stakeholder discussions before any plan moves forward.
Provided by NMHC as part of the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program