It's official: Eglin airmen can apply for temporary housing allowance increase of $300-$500
EGLIN AFB — Airmen and other military personnel assigned to Eglin Air Force Base and living in off-base housing in the military housing area (MHA) established for the installation can apply for a temporary increase to their monthly basic allowance for housing (BAH), the Department of Defense (DoD) has announced.
Depending on rank and whether the affected military personnel have dependents, the temporary increase ranges from just under $300 to slightly less than $500, according to a comparison of existing BAH rates in the Eglin MHA and the increased BAH rates.
The BAH is a nontaxable monthly payment to military personnel for housing expenses, based on private housing costs in the immediate market. The BAH is paid when a service member and their dependents, if any, don't live in base housing or barracks.
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The Eglin MHA is one of 56 such areas across the country where increased costs for housing, including rental housing, prompted the DoD to boost the BAH from Oct. 1 until the end of the year.
A new BAH rate, which may be higher or lower than the temporarily increased rate in the 56 affected MHAs, will become effective in January. In its recent announcement of the temporary rate hikes, the DoD told affected personnel that they "should not assume these rate increases will continue into 2022."
At present, pending the passage of the current versions of the National Defense Authorization Act moving through Congress, the BAH would increase by 2.7% from its current levels in January, although final local rates will vary based on housing prices in a given area.
According to the DoD, emails have been sent to military personnel in the 56 affected MHAs who may be eligible for the increased housing allowance directing them as to how to apply for the higher BAH rates. Part of the eligibility criteria for receiving the higher BAH payment will be some sort of certification by the affected military member that he or she has incurred higher housing costs.
In terms of calculating BAH, the Eglin MHA extends roughly from Mary Esther east to Miramar Beach and north to Crestview and DeFuniak Springs, meaning that it would not include areas closer to Naval Air Station Pensacola to the west or areas closer to Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City to the east.
Specifically, for military personnel in the Eglin MHA, the temporary housing allowance increase for the lowest-ranking personnel without dependents is $273, moving from the current $1,371 per month to $1,644 monthly. For the highest-ranking officers without dependents, the temporary hike is $417, increasing to $2,502 from the existing $2,085.
For personnel with dependents, the current monthly allowance for the lowest-ranking personnel in the Eglin MHA has been increased from $1,647 per month to $1,977, a hike of $330. For the highest-ranking personnel with dependents, the temporary BAH hike is $480 per month, rising from $2,406 to $2,886.
A recent check by the Daily News of apartment rental prices in Fort Walton Beach, part of the Eglin MHA, found rents for one-bedroom units ranging from slightly less than $1,000 to slightly less than $2,000.
As far as home prices, the Daily News check found that the Redfin real estate website put the median sales price of a single-family home in Fort Walton Beach in August at $280,000. With a 20% down payment and a 30-year mortgage loan, a $280,000 home would carry a monthly payment of $1,186.
The Eglin MHA is one of just five such areas in Florida where an increased monthly housing allowance is being made available. Military personnel in the designated areas in and around Tampa, West Palm Beach, Ocala and the Florida Keys also can apply for the temporary BAH increase.
The DoD has indicated that it expects the vast majority of personnel in the 56 designated areas to be eligible for the temporary BAH increase. If all personnel are eligible, the cost of the temporary hike has been placed at almost $159 million.