- Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) introduced legislation last week to help service members across the U.S. obtain affordable and quality housing.
- Warnock’s four bills are designed to address the Basic Allowance for Housing, increase homeownership and build more housing for service members. The legislative package aims to provide relief and recourse to military families “who are left vulnerable to fluctuating markets, rising prices, inadequate base housing and privatized military housing companies,” according to a press release.
- The proposals come on the heels of well publicized problems in military housing. In late 2021, Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Balfour Beatty Communities, the U.S subsidiary of Balfour Beatty and one of the country’s largest providers of privatized military housing, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and agreed to pay more than $65 million in fines and restitution. BBC employees closed work orders before maintenance had been completed, and destroyed and falsified resident comment cards to inflate resident satisfaction metrics at communities in which it operated, according to the Department of Justice.
Warnock has taken an interest in military housing during his time in the Senate, including pushing for a revision to the BAH process in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act and examining living conditions at Georgia military base housing facilities operated by BBC.
“When we invest in housing for our service members and their families, we increase their morale and quality of life and invest in our national security,” Warnock said in a news release.
The four bills include:
- The BAH Restoration Act, which would help service members and their families make ends meet by restoring the full BAH benefit.
- The BAH Calculation Improvement Act, which directs the Department of Defense to examine the current BAH rates’ efficiency and efficacy.
- The Increasing Homeownership for Servicemembers Act that directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study to understand the barriers to ownership for service members.
- The Building More Housing for Servicemembers Act, which would incentivize private developers and on-base housing providers to build more housing designed for service members, especially those with a lower income.
The military housing industry supports changes to BAH. The Military Housing Association is calling for Congress to pass legislative solutions to strengthen the housing stability and the purchasing power of military families and the ability of military housing providers to budget, plan and execute improvements, in a statement provided to Multifamily Dive.
The association also would like to see the housing allowance addressed. “It’s time to reverse the decade-old sequestration policies that led to indiscriminate BAH budget cuts,” according to the statement provided to Multifamily Dive. “The BAH Restoration Act proposes to restore this critical funding.”
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