EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The Department of Defense’s 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates were released Dec. 15. Edwards AFB active duty military members will receive an average increase of 7 percent in their BAH. Members will see their increase in their Jan. 15 pay.
BAH is defined by the Defense Travel Management Office as “a U.S.-based allowance prescribed by geographic duty location, pay grade and dependency status. It provides uniformed service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets within the United States when government quarters are not provided.”
The two components of BAH are rent and utilities, including electricity, heat, water and sewer. The goal is to accurately reflect median-priced rental costs and average utility costs for suitable-quality housing based on duty location.
BAH is not designed to cover all housing expenses. Based on authorities granted under the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the BAH program includes a cost-sharing element of 4 percent for 2018; meaning that the BAH is designed to cover only 96 percent of the housing costs; this is a 1 percent drop from last year.
Annually, between the months of April and August, the 412th Civil Engineer Group Housing Management Office works in tandem with Defense Department contractor Robert D. Niehaus, Inc. collecting data for suitable-quality housing in the Antelope Valley. Prior to submitting a property for inclusion in the data collection, the Edwards housing management office researches each rental in the Antelope Valley. Reasons for the HMO to exclude a property includes: high crime area, poorly maintained and/or condemned property, health issues (rodent/pest infestations), environmental factors such as locations near landfills, sewage treatment plants, environmental clean-up sites, areas with unsafe drinking water. Also excluded are subsidized housing and high income properties.
After appropriate properties are submitted for review, RDN calculates median rental costs, combines the information with average utility costs and utilizes algorithms to develop the new BAH rates specific to the Antelope Valley.
Not all military locations across the U.S. will receive increases in their BAH rates. Areas with high cost of living rates generally receive increases to help off-set expenses, where smaller cities with lower living expenses receive smaller increases, or sometimes even decreases in BAH.
The Edwards HMO works every year to ensure the local housing costs are fairly reflected to the BAH calculations resulting in average increases each year since 2013 where many locations have received decreases.
Read more about the 2018 BAH rates here.