Service members to receive higher housing allowance in 2013

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Military service members are set to see a $60 average increase in their basic allowance for housing in 2013, according to the American Forces Press Service.

Cheryl Anne Woehr, who helps manage basic allowance for housing, told AFPS that rental rates increased by an average of 3.8 percent in 2012. Service members living in New York City and Altus Air Force Base in Altus, Okla., will receive the largest increases in basic housing allowance, amounting to 14.7 and 14.1 percent, respectively.  Woehr told AFPS that 21 percent of localities saw a net decrease in their housing allowances. The new rates are scheduled to take place on Jan. 1, 2013.

“We want to make sure [service] members are able to afford adequate and appropriate housing within a reasonable distance of their duty station,” Woehr told AFPS.

She said 1 million service members, living in off base or in privatized housing, receive basic allowances for housing. The program is designed to cover the “total housing cost for the median rental housing type” based on the service member’s pay grade, according to Woehr.  Rental rates are determined by an annual survey of property managers in each duty location and utilities costs are found from the Census Bureau’s yearly American Community Survey.

“We look at what civilians in a typical income range typically live in . . . and we price that type of housing for equivalently paid military personnel,” Woehr told AFPS.

The Defense Department’s basic allowance for subsistence rates also are set to rise.  Enlisted personnel are scheduled to receive $352.27 a month and officers will receive $242.60 a month, AFPS reported. Those rate changes also will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013. 

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