The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is based on geographic duty location, pay grade and dependency status. BAH is designed to provide uniformed service members housing compensation based on housing costs in each local market. BAH is only payable when government quarters, such as barracks, are not provided or when a service member has dependents.
Each year the BAH tables are released in mid-December.
2021 BAH Rates:
The overall average military BAH rates across the country increased an average of 2.9% between 2020 and 2021, slightly higher than the 2020 2.8% increase, according to the Department of Defense.
BAH rates are based on the combination of local costs for rent and utilities for various housing types. Any fluctuation of one or more of those factors in a given location will affect BAH rates for that location.
Any active duty service members who see a drop in BAH for their locality will have their BAH protected, thanks to "individual rate protection," which was adopted by Congress over a decade ago. Individual rate protection prevents the decrease of a BAH rate as long as the status of a service member remains unchanged. That means if you don't transfer to another unit, your BAH won't decrease, it can only increase.
BAH Rates Below Actual Housing Cost
After a congressionally mandated change, BAH rates were slowly reduced over time to sit at 5% below actual housing costs. That process was finished in 2019, when the nearly one million troops who receive BAH will absorb between $70 to $158 of their housing costs monthly, DoD officials said. Rates will continue to sit at 95% of actual cost going forward.
Related: How Is BAH Calculated?
BAH Does Not Cover Renter's Insurance
Another congressionally mandated change eliminated renter's insurance from the BAH calculation. That means that troops are expected to pay out of pocket for such insurance. Privatized base housing companies also no longer provide that protection as part of on-base rental agreements.
Related: See your BAH rates
BAH And The GI Bill
Your GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) is generally the same as the BAH for an E-5 with dependents. Your MHA is based on the ZIP code for your school. Unlike the BAH which can change on January 1 of every year, the GI Bill MHA rate will increase on August 1 (the beginning date of the academic year). More details.
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