NAA/NMHC Members Lobby On Behalf of Military Housing Residents
Long before Jim Cox served Lincoln Military Housing, he was serving his country. As a retired Navy Master Chief, Cox knows firsthand the financial challenges many young military families face. As a junor enlisted man, his own wife was often waiting by the mailbox for the next paycheck to arrive.
Thus, for Cox and many other NAA/NMHC members who develop, own and operate privatized military housing, providing servicemen and women with quality, affordable housing hits close to home. Unfortunately, this soon may be jeopardized.
On July 24, Cox and four of his military housing colleagues met with key congressional offices to discuss concerns regarding a proposed five percent reduction to the Department of Defense’s Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) benefit in the Senate version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
If passed, the proposal would increase out-of-pocket housing expenses for one million troops and impact many of the services military housing communities currently provide for their residents.
“Eighty percent of our residents are at the lowest end of the pay scale,” Joe Sharp, CAPS, VP of Lincoln Military Housing, told U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s staff. “This potential out-of-pocket expense is money they don’t have. They’ll be forced to return to substandard living.”
Added former military spouse Paula Baker, Hunt Companies, “Here’s a vibrant program that’s working well, but we’re going to spiral into the same crummy housing situations that we fixed in the first place if we don’t have this revenue stream.”
In all, members met with 11 Senate offices, including Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
NAA/NMHC members explained the importance of the current BAH and asked the congressional offices to adopt the House-passed NDAA, which rejected changes to military housing benefits until the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission completes its evaluation in February 2015. Given the short legislative calendar remaining in this Congress, the timing and ultimate outcome of Senate action remain uncertain.
“For many of these families, five percent is the difference between making it and not,” said Mike Haydinger, United Communities. “This could hamper or cripple many of the services these men and women have been promised.”
By NAA Staff Writer Lauren Boston with additional information provided by NMHC as part of the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program.
Read Lauren Boston's full article in the September issue of units Magazine.