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Few troops are applying for extra housing money from Defense Department despite deadline

What was supposed to be a big help for military families in a temporary increase in basic...
What was supposed to be a big help for military families in a temporary increase in basic allowance for housing, or BAH, is unfortunately seeing a low turnout of applicants.
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 8:19 PM CST
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) - What was supposed to be a big help for military families in a temporary increase in basic allowance for housing, or BAH, is unfortunately seeing a low turnout of applicants.

When first announced, officials estimated that up to 200,000 service members would be eligible for the extra housing money, yet only around 4,000 claims have been filed.

Army Veteran and local Realtor Jeremy Fay says he was surprised to hear this news because affordable housing for our nation’s heroes has been quite a challenge in the last several months.

“The bottom line is that the BAH is not keeping pace with the market,” he said.

“Regionally, what we’re seeing with Austin and the tech explosion that’s happening, a lot of local Austinites are being pushed out of the area because they can’t afford it anymore. So, they’re coming into this area where they’re Austin poor, but Killeen rich. So, that’s creating a lot of competition amongst our local buyers and they’re being priced out.”

According to the Defense Department, those who qualify are service members who have relocated to a new house or duty station after March 13, 2020 and are now paying more than their regular BAH. The same goes for those members who’ve renewed their lease and are also paying more than their regular BAH.

Fay adds that the low turnout of service members applying for the aid could be for other reasons.

“Perhaps, the nature of the bureaucratic red tape is such that for a lot of these members, they may not feel that it’s worth the hassle,” he said.

“Especially when we’re looking at a program designed to cover just three months, how much am I gonna get out of that? A lot of times, service members may not be aware of what the rewards may be.”

With the allowance ending at the end of the month, the Defense Department adds they’ll wait to see how BAH rates look in January before they extend the allowance.

Fay adds an extension may be inevitable.

“My hope is that the BAH rates for 2022 as such that they keep up with these housing costs and a program like this is unnecessary,” he said.

“With that being said, this is something that I hope service members can take advantage of.”

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