Troops’ housing allowances will get a 5% boost in 2024

by Tommy Grant

Housing allowances for troops are jumping by 5.4%, on average, in 2024, defense officials announced Wednesday.

The new Basic Allowance for Housing rates take effect on Jan. 1. The military will be paying about $27.9 billion in BAH to roughly one million service members in 2024, according to defense officials.

The 5.4% is the average increase across the board, and doesn’t mean everyone will see that increase. Changes in BAH vary depending on the area, whether or not a service member has dependents, and pay grade.

For example, an E5 with dependents in the Fort Liberty/Pope, North Carolina ZIP codes of 28307 and 28310, will see an increase of about 9.2%. The monthly BAH, in that instance, increases from $1,572 to $1,716. For an E5 without dependents in the same area area, the increase is 7.1% and monthly BAH goes from $1,389 to $1,488.

There may be BAH decreases in some areas, but troops who continue to be stationed in those areas aren’t penalized — they’ll continue to receive the same amount they received in 2023.

Troops can look up their new BAH rates for 2024 by plugging in their ZIP code and rank in the Defense Department BAH tool.

Many service members have been hit hard over the last few years by the increased cost of housing. In 2023, BAH rates jumped by an average of 12.1%, the largest year-over-year percentage jump in the Basic Allowance for Housing in at least 15 years. It’s one of the steps defense officials have taken to ease the financial burdens on service members.

BAH rates go up or down based on rental housing cost data for various types of houses, collected each year for more than 300 military housing areas in the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii. The process for setting the BAH rates includes a variety of data sources, such as U.S. Census Bureau survey data, Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, commercial subscription rental cost databases, industry-leading online rental listing websites, and input from the military services and local military installation housing offices. The BAH computations include the median current market rent and average utilities cost for six different types of housing units in each of the housing areas.

The Government Accountability Office has reported that DoD needs to improve the way it calculates troops’ housing allowances. Defense officials are in the process of reviewing those procedures.

For service members who live in privatized housing, their rent is equal to their BAH, so their privatized housing landlords will get the extra money.

This year’s BAH rates continue the cost-sharing element of 5% of the national average housing cost by pay grade, defense officials noted. These amounts also vary by pay grade, dependency status and range from $85 to $194 a month for the 2024 rates, officials said.

Lawmakers have been urging defense officials to have BAH cover 100% of troops’ housing costs, which DoD can do without legislation.

In 2015, defense officials reduced the amount of housing allowances they pay to military families from the full cost to 95% of their rental costs, as determined by the Basic Allowance for Housing formula. The cost-saving measure was authorized by Congress, but it wasn’t required.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families.” She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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