[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                 February 27, 2009
News

Military housing rates set for 2009

By Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, D.C ó Housing allowances for military members will go up an average of 6.9 percent in 2009, Defense Department officials announced.

Military protected against foreclosures

Soldiers whose private housing is affected by the economic downturn have protection if their landlord goes into foreclosure.

Sherry Oslie, Fort Mc-Coy Directorate of Public Works Family Housing manager, said a provision was approved and added to the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR) that allows servicemembers to make a local move with household goods at government expense if the dwelling they are renting/leasing is in foreclosure. The new provision does not cover servicemembersí expenses if they are the party in foreclosure.

"This offers service- members some protections and monetary relief against the additional expenses of moving if they cannot remain in a dwelling because their landlord had to go into foreclosure," Oslie said.

After the move is completed, servicemembers will receive the basic allowance of housing rate that is in effect in the locality they are moving to for their particular rank and dependent status (see accompanying story), she said.

The change was effective in July 2008. Service- members taking advantage of the change must adhere to all the guidance and restrictions that are in place for local, short-distance moves. These include weight limitations within prescribed allowances.

Servicemembers are encouraged to use all remedies available to them, such as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 USC, App 531) and state laws, before using the new JFTR provision.

Servicemembers must apply for the foreclosure local move orders through the Family Housing office. Any questions can be directed to Oslie at (608) 388-3906.

The increase comes to an average of about $95 a month across the board for the 950,000 servicemembers expected to draw basic allowance for housing, or BAH, in 2009.

Some servicemembers will not see any increase at all, and others will see less than the average increase, Susan A. Brumbaugh director of the Defense Departmentís BAH program, said in a Pentagon Channel interview.

"We did see some decreases in some areas for some pay grades," she said, "(but) itís not across the broad spectrum. We also saw some significant increases across the board, so itís a balance."

"In some years, youíll have a rental market that is very strong in some areas," she explained, "and in others areas, youíll have local rental markets where thereís not a lot of housing available. So it changes. It can fluctuate from year to year."

"Every year youíll see some (areas) that go down and some that go up, and this was a very typical year."

Those who do notice their areaís BAH is lower than last yearís shouldnít worry, Brumbaugh said, because an individual rate protection law is in place to protect those who already are under a rental agreement. So, if BAH rates in their area are lower Jan. 1 than Dec. 31, the previous, higher rate applies. Service-members who change duty stations after Jan. 1 will be affected by the new, lower rates for that area, she explained.

"If (the military memberís) status didnít change, his rate will not go down," she said. "Individual rate protection is in place. Itís in the law, and itís not going to change."

The local market economy serves as the basis for BAH rate changes. Military housing offices from each installation begin collecting data from the local rental market as early as January each year.

The various housing offices research the current rates for two-bedroom houses, townhouses, single-family homes and all the different standards and profiles for homes, Brumbaugh explained.

Typically, rates are higher in larger, more heavily populated metropolitan areas, such as New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Rates in rural areas usually are more stable, and although they may increase to some degree, the rise doesnít have the same impact as in larger cities, she said.

"The military housing offices are looking at adequate and appropriate dwellings we would want our military families living in," she said. "They donít look at a small, two-bedroom house and say, "We could put an E-5 with a family in that.í They look at it as something that would be appropriate for that particular profile."

Sherry Oslie, Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Family Housing manager, said the commercial rental/housing market in the Fort McCoy community remained strong so all 2009 BAH rates for military living in the Fort McCoy area increased from 2008 BAH rates.

Brumbaugh said service-members need to remember that although the BAH program is designed to benefit them in securing housing, itís not designed to pay 100 percent of their housing expenses.


"If (the military member's) status didn't change, his rate will not go down."

Susan A. Brumbaugh,
Director of the Defense Department's
BAH Program

Although sheís never met a servicemember who is entirely pleased with his or her BAH rates, she said, the program is very well designed, and once servicemembers understand the process for which the rates are set, theyíre fairly satisfied, she said.

"The entitlement is a wonderful entitlement," she said. "(The Defense Department) absolutely bends over backward to make sure that if there is any change at all, itís for the benefit of the member."

Military personnel, including those in the Fort McCoy community, can access their BAH rate with or without dependents at the Web site http://perdiem.hqda.pentagon.mil/perdiem/bah.html.

At the site, the personnel will need to chose the year (1998-2009 available), enter their ZIP code (54656 for Sparta ó all local ZIP codes will bring up the Fort McCoy rates), and select their rank/pay grade to access their BAH rates.

For more information about BAH rates in the Fort McCoy community, call (608) 388-3906.

 

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