The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a benefit received by service members and their families in addition to salary and is intended to cover basic housing costs. The Department of Defense (DOD) sets BAH rates annually, using a number of factors including service member rank and pay grade, number of dependents, and geographic duty location. BAH is provided to service members regardless of whether they choose to live on or off base. However, if service members choose to live on base, their BAH is paid directly to the privatized housing community and covers rent, utilities, and amenities, and they are not responsible for any extra costs.
Congress and the Department of Defense, not the privatized military housing providers, determine changes to the BAH for service members and their families. Military Housing Association (MHA) member companies have long supported a more transparent process to develop BAH rates that accurately reflect rental market rates. In 2019, MHA member companies supported a measure requiring the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General to review the BAH rate determination process to help increase transparency.
The GAO recently released a report outlining the actions needed to improve the process for setting BAH payments for service members, which is also how privatized military housing projects receive funding. The report noted the difficulties in accurately determining the cost of service member housing without a more transparent system for collecting and monitoring data used for setting rates. The DOD accepted the GAO recommendation to review and update their processes for determining BAH rates, and MHA member companies support this initiative.
Regardless of changes in BAH rates, the standards set by the DOD, service branches, and Congress for privatized housing remain unchanged. BAH payments received by privatized military housing providers cover all community operating expenses, including utilities, insurance, preventive and ongoing maintenance, renovations, and upgrades. A portion of BAH revenue is also reinvested by housing providers to ensure the long-term viability of the properties.
MHA member companies and their employees are committed to continuing to provide high quality housing and property management services for their residents.
To learn more about BAH rates and how to access the benefit for military families, visit the Department of Defense website. The 2021 BAH calculator can also be found on the Department of Defense website.