Study backs higher housing pay for some
Stars and Stripes March 14, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — Housing allowances should be increased for single military members living in substandard government quarters, especially barracks or aboard ships, according to a new Defense Department study on military compensation.
The Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC), required by Congress, recommends that defense leaders overhaul the basic allowance for housing, or BAH, pay structure for single enlisted members.
According to the study, released Wednesday, enlisted members who live in anything less than one-plus-one quarters, however, would get a BAH payment amounting from 5 percent to 25 percent of full BAH, depending on their quarters [see chart].
The current partial BAH, set at $7 to $19 a month for enlisted, however, would end for single members living in so-called one-plus-one quarters, which include a private bedroom and shared kitchen and bath.
One-plus-one is the goal Pentagon leaders have set as the minimum housing standard for single servicemembers, Jan “Denny” Eakle, the review’s director, told Pentagon reporters Wednesday.
The maximum 25 percent BAH payment would be reserved for sailors aboard ships, where space often is so tight they alternate bunk time with shipmates — a practice the Navy calls “hot bunking,” or “hot cots,” Eakle said.
“The concept is that partial BAH would be based on essentially the value of the quarters they’re occupying,” Eakle said.
Currently, the Army houses 20,000 junior enlisted members in housing below the one-plus-one standard, the study said. The Navy (including the Marine Corps) has another 35,000 members living in such quarters; and the Air Force, 10,000, it said.
Defense officials will study this recommendation along with others in the report, and decide whether to ask Congress for the money to fund the change, Sheila Earle, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, said Wednesday.
Since the Pentagon would have to ask Congress for the funds to put the new BAH plan into action, the earliest servicemembers could expect to see the changes would be fiscal 2009, or Oct. 1.
The new BAH plan would cost taxpayers approximately $80 million annually, the study said.