DoD Announces Housing Allowance Increases for 2022

Service members in high-cost housing markets are getting financial relief thanks to the orders in a September 22, 2022, Memorandum from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. There are multiple directives in that Memorandum, including a review of the 2023 Basic Allowance For Housing (BAH) calculations to keep BAH current with “unusually dynamic fluctuations in the housing market”.

Automatic BAH Increase for Qualifying Troops

But there’s more immediate relief for some; the DoD has been directed to “automatically” increase BAH for service members who live in some 28 “Military Housing Areas” that have had a spike in rental costs of 20% or more.

This automatic increase goes into effect in October 2022 and comes at a time, according to the Defense Secretary, when the DoD is dealing with issues “critical to stability for our outstanding military families”.

Who Is Affected

Military members living in one of the 28 Military Housing Areas will receive an automatic BAH increase under these areas, which have all experienced a spike in rental costs of 20% or more:

  • San Diego, California
  • Twentynine Palms MCB, California
  • ​​Vandenberg AFB, California
  • Dover AFB/ Rehoboth, Delaware
  • Fort Myers Beach, Florida
  • Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Patrick AFB, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida
  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Volusia County, Florida
  • Fort Myers Beach, Florida
  • Kings Bay/Brunswick, Georgia
  • Maui County, Hawaii
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cape Cod–Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
  • Brunswick, Maine
  • Coastal Maine, Maine
  • Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
  • Helena, Montana
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Northern New Jersey
  • Newport, Rhode Island
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Beaufort/Parris Island, South Carolina
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Houston, Texas
  • Quantico/Woodbridge, Virginia

Commissaries, Basic Needs Allowances, Child Care

These two moves aren’t the only ones listed in the Memorandum. Secretary Austin notes in the document, “The President’s budget includes a 4.6 percent pay increase for Service members” effective on 1 January 2023. Other improvements include:

  • “Fully funding” base commissaries “to cut prices at the register, with the goal of achieving at least a 25 percent savings” on groceries compared to buying them “on the economy”.
  • Offer a Basic Needs Allowance to “eligible service members” a Basic Needs Allowance starting in 2023. This allowance would be calculated based on gross household income.
  • Enhance Child Development Program facilities and infrastructure; offer a standard 50 percent employee discount for the first child of our CDP direct-care workers to help attract more talented staff and to increase capacity. This is scheduled to begin in October 2022.
  • “Accelerate the development” of additional occupational license interstate agreements “with organizations representing multiple professions”. This move is intended to make it easier for military spouses to obtain or transfer professional licenses after a permanent change of station move.
  • The DoD plans a “new career accelerator pilot initiative” designed to place military spouses with “private sector fellowships”. This is scheduled to begin in 2023.

Permanent Change Of Station Moves

There are some reforms for those making PCS moves, too. Starting in October 2022 the Temporary Lodging Expense benefit, paid to those traveling to a new assignment, is extended permanently from 10 to 14 days for stateside moves, and up to 60 days in cases where “a Service member is in a specified Military Housing Area with a housing shortage”.

There is also an increase in the Dislocation Allowance (DLA) for enlisted service members up to grade E-6. This increase is meant to “further help offset personal expenses for PCS moves. DLA payments for all Service members “will be paid automatically one month prior to their move date to pre-empt out-of-pocket expenses” effective starting in October 2022.

What’s Next

At press time, there is no word on what will happen with the top-down BAH review. Will there be an across-the-board increase based on housing market price fluctuations in the last two quarters of 2022? Or will another set of Military Housing Areas be identified for more targeted increases?

That remains to be seen at the time of this writing, but what is certain is that any BAH overhaul based on the review will most likely be paid in the same fashion BAH is currently assigned; the amount of the increase may depend on location, whether the service member has any dependents, and rank.

 

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