Senators Murkowski, Warnock, Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Affordable Military Housing Options

.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan bill that will help servicemembers across Georgia, Alaska and the entire country obtain sufficient and affordable housing. The bipartisan Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Restoration Act will help servicemembers and their families make ends meet by restoring the full BAH benefit. In FY2015, Congress changed BAH so that the Department could impose cost-sharing on servicemembers, decreasing BAH coverage from 100% of estimated costs to 95%. This cost-sharing has hurt military families, many of whom already face issues of food insecurity and other growing expenses. Companion legislation was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Marilyn Strickland (D, WA-10th) and Don Bacon (R, NE-2nd).

“Our servicemembers are the best among us. They represent us and they defend us. The least we can do is ensure they and their families have access to affordable and quality housing,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I’m excited to be working with Senator Murkowski on the other side of the aisle in this important endeavor to restore the housing allowance that servicemembers deserve. I know that Georgia is a military state: 1 in 10 Georgians is in some way connected to the military, so when we invest in housing for our servicemembers and their families, we increase their morale and quality of life and boost our national security. Let’s get this done.”

“The men and women defending our nation deserve our respect—and that starts by ensuring they can afford to cover basic housing costs. In Alaska, financial stressors are a major problem for our military families, and something that I’m working hard to address. I’m proud to join Senator Warnock on this bipartisan effort to alleviate financial stress and ensure that our servicemembers have access to safe and quality housing,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.

This legislation, which would increase the formula for BAH calculations inside the United States to cover the full 100 percent monthly cost of adequate housing in a base area, is endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America, the Military Housing Association, Blue Star Families, The American Legion, The Military Coalition, and the Military Family Advisory Network.

“As we weigh in for the future of the All-Volunteer Force, we see the strain being placed on our service members and families, particularly among our junior enlisted,” said Military Officers Association of America President and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret). “Financial security starts at home. We are grateful for Senator Warnock and Senator Murkowski’s leadership to care for our service-families by introducing legislation to restore the Basic Allowance for Housing to 100 percent. Our servicemembers give their all to our nation, the least we can do is ensure that we fully provide for adequate housing.”

Our research shows that 69.2% of active duty military family respondents carry the burden of paying more than they can comfortably afford for housing. Furthermore, 59.4% of active duty families living off-installation pay more than $251 beyond their housing allowance each month for housing-related expenses,” said Shannon Razsadin, President and Executive Director of the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN). “The intersection between housing, economic security, and overarching well-being is clear. We applaud Senators Warnock and Murkowski for their bipartisan effort to support military families who navigate unpredictable housing markets, on average, every two and a half years.”

“Military families struggle to the point of experiencing ‘PCS homelessness’ and chronic money shortfalls because of skyrocketing housing costs, according to our research, ” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO and Founder of Blue Star Families. “We were grateful last year to see Chairman Smith address restoring the basic housing allowance (BAH) to 100 percent, and continue to urge Congress to restore BAH to cover 100 percent of the calculated rate. We are thrilled that Sen. Warnock and his Senate colleagues are reintroducing this legislation this year and we wholeheartedly support this effort to make life easier for thousands of military families.”

See here for full bill text.