BAH rates increase

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Christina Calloway

The Department of Defense’s Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) given to service members living off base increased in 2012 and officials at Cannon Air Force Base public affairs say allowances are expected to increase every year based on the housing market.

BAH is based on geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status.

According to the military website that calculates rates, the intent is to provide uniformed service members accurate and equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets.

In Portales, the housing allowance for a service member at the lowest rank with or without dependents increased by nearly 4 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Although Cannon public affairs officials say increases aren’t usually a significant amount, they usually are more the higher the rank.

BAH rates are released every year between Dec. 15 and Jan. 1. Since 2008, the BAH rates are directly related to the cost increases of the local rental housing markets.

In the event that market costs do decrease, individual rate protection prevents the decrease of a BAH rate as long as the status of a service member remains unchanged and protection will not keep them from getting increases at their pay grade.

According to the website, BAH rates are based on rental data and data is collected in the spring and summer when housing markets are most active.

Local Realtors say the BAH rate doesn’t really have an effect on their rates even though a great deal of their properties are rented out by service members.

“We don’t really base our prices on their housing allowance because we don’t know it,” said Sonia Howard of Prudential in Portales. “Owners determine the prices of the property.”

Howard said out of 200 properties, roughly one-third to about a half of those are rented by service members.

Associate Broker Amanda Baker of HomeSpot says that about 70 percent of their properties are rented by service members.

“They tell us the amount they get for an allowance and then we try to accommodate them,” Baker said.