U.S. Senate passed Sens. Ossoff and Tillis’ bill to reform how basic housing allowance rates are calculated for junior enlisted servicemembers and their families
Atlanta, Ga. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to help young military families in Georgia afford housing in their communities passed the Senate as part of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.
Sens. Ossoff 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.
“When I sit down with junior enlisted personnel and young military families, the cost of housing is a key issue,” Sen. Ossoff said. “When servicemembers and their families can’t afford to live near the installation where they train and where they’re stationed, that has an impact on readiness. I brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass the Junior Enlisted Housing Affordability Act to help junior enlisted personnel and military families afford housing.”
Current law requires that the Department of Defense 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 realistic money 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 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to meet their needs and afford housing in the communities they serve.
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 bipartisaninvestigation 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 Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan Junior Enlisted Housing Affordability Act.