OASD personnel assess FEW for BAH changes

  • Published
  • By Maj. Victoria Hight
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Members of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense visited the 90th Missile Wing to discuss potential paths forward for Base Allowance for Housing changes and tour the local area and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, July 6, 2023.

Summer Britford, allowances division chief, Kevin Scott, economist and housing allowance advisor, Ian Monsma, contracted BAH project manager, and Capt. Daniel Cassidy, military compensation policy division, were joined by Mayor of Cheyenne Patrick Collins for a mission briefing, discussions on courses of action and a windshield tour of the base and city.

F.E. Warren leadership have been pursuing support from higher headquarters to expand BAH pay Airmen receive to include areas of Northern Colorado, where a portion of base personnel reside due to housing availability and other factors. According to the BAH program office, a command must meet several requirements, including that 10% of personnel live outside the current military housing area boundary for an increase request to be reviewed.

Housing allowance rates are set at the Department of Defense level and are based on the local average cost of rental housing for civilians of comparable incomes to service members. The allowance covers about 95% of housing costs.

“Some Airmen might be considered over housed by Department of Defense policies,” said Scott. “For example, a young Airman isn’t expected to maintain a four-bedroom house, but rather an apartment. If they rent a large home, they would be expected to pay out of pocket for the difference between BAH and the home cost.”

Housing and rental costs in Cheyenne have risen sharply in the last four years, according to data provided by Collins. New major commercial projects on the horizon are expected to further strain the housing market.

“It’s important to note that there’s a lag when it comes to local BAH rates,” said Monsma. “When a member moves to Cheyenne in the fall of 2023, they receive BAH based on information collected from the previous year. It’s a continuous process to ensure members are adequately compensated.”

Although DoD rates may change year to year, renters are often quick to raise their rates to match what members receive, which complicates the market further.

“It’s a difficult balance,” said Col. Johnny Galbert, 90 MW commander. “We are looking for ways to take care of our Airmen and their families in a tough housing market, as well as those who feel compelled to live in different communities. We appreciate the support given to us by the city of Cheyenne thus far, as well as our neighbors in Colorado and Nebraska. While there’s more work to be done, this OSD visit was a step in the right direction.”

To learn more about the BAH process, please visit:  Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) (defense.gov)