Senator Reverend Warnock Introduces Legislative Package to Bolster Affordable Military Housing for Georgia Servicemembers

Today, Senator Reverend Warnock is introducing a legislative package that will help servicemembers across Georgia and the country obtain sufficient and affordable housing

Bills will help Georgia servicemembers and base communities

Senator Reverend Warnock: “Our servicemembers are the best among us. They represent us and they defend us. The least we can do is ensure they and their families have access to affordable and quality housing”

Senator Reverend Warnock: “When we invest in housing for our servicemembers and their families, we increase their morale and quality of life and invest in our national security”

ICYMI: This past year’s NDAA featured almost $320 million in authorized military construction funding for Georgia, as well as the language Senator Warnock championed which pushed the DoD to examine their methodology for determining the basic allowance for housing for servicemembers. 

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced a legislative package that will help servicemembers across Georgia and nationwide obtain affordable and quality housing. During the Senator’s visits to nearly every military base in the state, servicemembers have expressed frustrations about the lack of access to affordable, safe, and quality housing on military bases and in respective military base communities.

The package also aims to provide relief and recourse to Georgia servicemembers and military families who are left vulnerable to fluctuating markets, rising prices, inadequate base housing, and privatized military housing companies. Last year, Senator Warnock also pushed for revision to the basic allowance for housing process in last year’s NDAA. Additionally, in January, Senator Warnock led an oversight effort to examine the unsanitary, unsafe living conditions at Georgia military base housing facilities operated by Balfour Beatty. BBC manages housing communities at 55 military installations in U.S., including Fort Gordon, Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield, Moody Air Force Base, and Kings Bay Naval Station. The steps prescribed in Senator Warnock’s new military housing package would alleviate these challenges for many servicemembers.

“Our servicemembers are the best among us. They represent us and they defend us. The least we can do is  ensure they and their families have access to affordable and quality housing,” said Senator Reverend Warnock.“I have visited bases across Georgia and the housing conditions are sometimes shameful. This legislative package would restore the housing allowance that servicemembers deserve, provide greater transparency for how the annual allowance is calculated, identify ways to increase military homeownership, and incentivize private developers to help build housing for our military families.

“Georgia is a military state: 1 in 10 Georgians is in some way connected to the military, so when we invest in housing for our servicemembers and their families, we increase their morale and quality of life and invest in our national security. I’m going to keep pushing the politicians in Washington on the importance of getting this done,” concluded Senator Warnock.

Senator Warnock has been a strong advocate for bringing more affordable housing to servicemembers and for increasing quality of life for Georgia’s military families. This past year’s NDAA featured almost $320 million in authorized military construction funding for Georgia, including funding for soldiers barracks at Fort Stewart, as well as the language Senator Warnock championed which pushed the DoD to examine their methodology for determining the basic allowance for housing for servicemembers. He also successfully secured Congressionally Directed Spending to move forward the Fort Stewart barracks. Senator Warnock successfully included a bipartisan provision the FY22 NDAA to direct the DoD to collect important data related to military spouse employment and challenges they face. He also led a letter to the Department of Defense related to the need to conduct continued oversight of privatized housing companies.

This package of bills was introduced in the House by Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA). The Military Officers Association of America, Air Force Sergeants Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Family Advisory Network, and Blue Star Families endorsed the BAH Calculation Improvement Act. Military Officers Association of America, Air Force Sergeants Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Blue Star Families endorsed the BAH Restoration Act. The Air Force Sergeants Association, Blue Star Families, and Military Family Advisory Network endorsed the Increasing Homeownership for Servicemembers Act.

See below for a breakdown of the four bills Senator Warnock introduced:

The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Restoration Act

This bill will help servicemembers and their families make ends meet by restoring the full BAH benefit. In FY2015, Congress changed BAH so that the Department could impose cost-sharing on servicemembers, decreasing BAH coverage from 100% of estimated costs to 95%. This cost-sharing has hurt military families, many of whom already face issues of food insecurity and other growing expenses.

This bill is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

The BAH Calculation Improvement Act 

This bill would direct the Department to examine the current BAH rates’ efficiency and efficacy, determine if BAH should be calculated more often, if school districts can be included in BAH calculations, and if there is an algorithm the Department can develop that would be more effective. Given the amount of publicly available data in the rental market, it is far past time for the Department to look at alternative, more responsive, and transparent ways to calculate BAH.

This bill is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Increasing Homeownership for Servicemembers Act 

This bill would direct the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study to better understand the barriers to ownership for members of the Armed Forces. With frequent moves and other potential barriers, the opportunity to own a home and build family wealth is out of reach for many servicemembers.  

This bill is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Building More Housing for Servicemembers Act 

This bill works to incentivize private developers and on-base housing providers to build more housing designed for servicemembers, particularly those who have a lower income. The bill establishes several pilot programs and direct reports to incentivize the building of housing. These pilot programs include using the Rental Partnership Program as a tenant assurance program for developers, a joint pilot program with the Departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development to provide financial incentives for the development of housing for low-income servicemembers and civilians, and a joint grant program with the Department of Defense and Housing and Urban Development administered by the Office of Local Defense Community Partnerships for developers to build housing. The bill would also direct the Department of Defense to study the feasibility of acquiring property for housing development near installations that face a shortage.

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