Sens. Ossoff and Tillis are pushing for reforms in how basic housing allowance rates are calculated for junior enlisted servicemembers and their families
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is introducing a bipartisan bill to help young military families in Georgia and nationwide afford housing in their communities.
Sens. Ossoff (D-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the bipartisan Junior Enlisted Housing Affordability Act to improve how the Department of Defense (DoD) calculates housing allowances for junior enlisted servicemembers with dependents to more accurately assess their housing costs.
Current law requires that DoD tie the housing allowance for junior enlisted servicemembers with dependents to the costs of ￼only two specific housing types (two-bedroom townhomes and apartments), which can lead to underestimates of the amount needed for young military families to afford quality housing in their communities.
Sens. Ossoff and Tillis’ bill would provide DoD more flexibility to ensure junior servicemembers living off-base can receive an adequate and equitable BAH to meet their needs and afford housing in the communities they serve.
“Military families make immense sacrifices in our national defense, and they continue to face unacceptable difficulties in accessing housing that is up to the standard they deserve,” Sen. Ossoff said. “This new bipartisan bill will allow the Department of Defense to increase the basic allowance for housing for junior enlisted military personnel in a way that reflects the true cost of housing in the communities where servicemembers are stationed.”
“Servicemembers and their families already sacrifice so much for our nation so we should make it as easy as possible to access affordable housing while serving in our armed forces,” said Senator Tillis. “This bipartisan legislation makes commonsense reforms to military housing allowances to make it easier for junior-enlisted servicemembers and their families to access housing that better fits their needs.”
According to an analysis by The Associated Press and Zillow of the five most populous military bases in the U.S., surrounding rental prices have skyrocketed 43.9% since January of 2018. However, the BAH rates across all military ranks have only risen by an average of 18.7%.
Junior enlisted servicemembers are considered any active-duty member of the armed forces, ranking between the E-1 and E-4 pay grades.
This is the latest in Sen. Ossoff’s work to ensure military families in Georgia have access to safe and quality housing. Last year, Sen. Ossoff led an eight-month bipartisan investigation into the mistreatment of military families living in privatized housing on base.
Sen. Ossoff continued this effort by bringing Army leadership to Ft. Gordon earlier this year to conduct home-by-home inspections of the privatized housing on base.
Last year, Sen. Ossoff passed his bipartisan Military Housing Affordability Act with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) into law to help servicemembers living in higher-cost areas access affordable and quality housing. The law granted the Secretary of Defense the authority to adjust the BAH rates where the cost of adequate housing differs more than 20% from the current BAH rate.
Sen. Ossoff also worked across the aisle to pass the bipartisan BAH Calculation Improvement Act to direct the DoD to update its process for calculating BAH rates across the armed forces and determine if BAH should be calculated more often.
Click here to read the Junior Enlisted Housing Affordability Act.