Many active-duty troops will see slightly more Basic Allowance for Housing in 2019 as rates are set to climb an average of 2.55 percent nationwide, according to the new rates released Friday by the Defense Department.
The new 2019 rates can be found on Military.com's Pay Calculator.
Individual rates are based on rank, marriage status and cost of housing per location and they vary dramatically nationwide. Rates are based on an annual DoD survey of local housing costs for each zip code.
Thanks to what the DoD calls "rate protection," troops already living in an area where the rate is set to decrease will continue to receive the old, higher rate in the new year. Only troops new to the area with a lower rate, or who change ranks or dependent status, will receive the lower 2019 rate.
BAH Rates Set Below Actual Cost
Thanks to cost-cutting measures, BAH rates for 2019 are set at 5 percent below the actual cost of housing, the final step in a five-year rate reduction ordered by Congress. Since 2015, rates have dropped 1 percent lower each year. The rate also is no longer calculated to cover the cost of renter's insurance, a change that also took place in 2015.
That means for 2019, the nearly one million troops who receive BAH will absorb between $66 and $149 of their housing costs monthly, DoD officials said in a release.
Housing payments for those using the post-9/11 GI Bill also are tied to the annual BAH rate. However, while the new housing rates kick in for active-duty troops each January, GI Bill users must wait until August to see their allowance adjusted.
BAH Winners and Losers
The largest BAH increase for 2019 goes to the area around Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where rates will rise an average of 16 percent, officials said. For an E-4 with dependents, that means an increase of $87 a month from $900 to $987.
Residents near bases struck by hurricanes last year also will likely also see a bump as housing shortages drive up home prices. Near Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, for example, rates will go up an average of 12 percent, while those near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, will see a 11 percent average increase.
Sixty-three housing areas, or 23 percent, will experience a decrease, officials said, although not every pay grade in those areas will be impacted.
Among the areas facing the largest rate decreases are the area near Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where newly stationed troops will receive a 7 percent average decrease, and Huntsville, Alabama, where BAH will decrease about 6 percent.
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-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.