Service members moving to Fort Hood who intend to live off post will be seeing a lighter check when it comes to their housing allowance compensation this year.
The Department of Defense released the 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates in December, which took effect on Monday. Some posts, such as Fort Hood, will see a decrease in the amount of money service members will receive.
The rate decrease will not affect those currently stationed at Fort Hood, however, according to www.defensetravel.dod.mil. A BAH rate protection plan keeps an individual from having a reduction in housing allowance as long as the individual maintains uninterrupted eligibility for BAH. The service member will continue to receive last year’s amount, which is higher.
Service members living on post will not see a difference in pay.
Those who get stationed at the military installation in 2018 and decide to live off post, however, will not receive as much housing allowance as their counterparts already here.
For example, a sergeant stationed at Fort Hood with dependents received $1,134 for a housing allowance in 2017. That number has dropped by about 4 percent to $1,086 this year. A private with dependents who received $1,128 in 2017 will see a decrease to $1,083 this year, also about a 4 percent drop. A staff sergeant with dependents will see a drop from $1,200 to $1,107, a decrease of 7.75 percent.
The Defense Department has not yet returned a Herald request for why the Fort Hood area is seeing this decrease at a time when local utility costs are rising.
For Fort Hood, housing rates are calculated to allow for 79 percent to cover rent and 21 percent for utilities.
Overall, Basic Allowance for Housing rates will increase an average of 0.7 percent this year, according to a DoD release.
The increase is an average of all DoD facilities and does not necessarily mean all postings will see that increase, said Defense Department spokeswoman Laura Ochoa.
Continuing to balance the growth in compensation costs, the 2018 housing allowance program expands the service member’s out-of-pocket expenses. Based on the authority provided in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the cost-sharing element has increased to 4 percent for 2018, which means a typical member will absorb 4 percent of the national average housing cost by pay grade, stated the release. Even with the increase in cost sharing, on average, BAH rates will increase about $10 per month.
A typical mid-grade enlisted member with dependents, for example, will find his or her BAH about $19 per month higher than 2017, while a typical junior officer without dependents will find his or her BAH about $16 higher than last year. Those numbers reflect an average of all Defense Department facilities across all branches of service and not specific locations.
Median current market rent and average utilities (including electricity, heat and water/sewer) comprise the total housing cost for each military housing area and are included in the housing allowance computation, according to the release. Total housing costs are developed for six housing profiles (based on dwelling type and number of bedrooms) in each military housing area. Rates are then calculated for each pay grade, both with and without dependents.
Officers with prior enlisted time in the ranks of second lieutenant to captain do receive a slightly higher housing allowance than officers with no prior enlisted time.
For more information on Basic Allowance for Housing, including the 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates, visit www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bah.cfm. Service members can calculate their BAH payment by using the BAH calculator at www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm.
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2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates for Fort Hood, without dependents:
E1 to E4: $855
2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates for Fort Hood, with dependents:
E1 to E4: $1,083