In the Winter Edition of the AFSA Magazine, our Military and Government Relations Team reported on efforts to provide for increased access to affordable housing.
Over the past couple of months, AFSA's Policy Advisor, Matthew Schwartzman, has met with Hill staff to discuss a series of topics in this arena, including:
For those who are unfamiliar, supporting a more adequate BAH was one of the 20+ calls to action our Team organized for the 2021 Legislative Awareness Week (LAW). Thousands of letters and e-mails on this issue alone were sent to elected officials by our members throughout the week.
Following the LAW, we reaffirmed our commitment to continuing our advocacy efforts on this issue and stated we were "cautiously optimistic that the conversations held will be complemented by decisive legislative action in the coming months, as the soon-to-be expected President's budget submission will kick off the FY23 appropriations process."
In this edition of the AFSA M&G-B, we are proud to report that decisive action was taken this past week when Congresswoman Strickland introduced the Ensuring Every Servicemember Has a Home legislative package.
This package contains four separate but connected bills - all of which were drafted with input from the AFSA and are supported by the AFSA.
"With rising housing costs and supply shortages in the South Sound and across the nation, many of our servicemembers and their families are unable to access safe and affordable housing," said Congresswoman Strickland. "The Ensuring Every Servicemember Has a Home package focuses on four components to address this housing crunch and give our servicemembers options. Through their courageous service, our nation's servicemembers have a right to be safely and adequately housed. It is Congress' responsibility to ensure we can provide them with that opportunity."
The bill titles and summaries are as follows:
BAH Restoration Act
In FY2015, Congress changed BAH so that the Department of Defense (DoD) could impose cost-sharing on servicemembers. This bill will restore BAH to 100%.
BAH Calculation Improvement Act
Directs DoD 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.
Increasing Homeownership for Servicemembers Act
Directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study to study the barriers to ownership for members of the Armed Forces.
Building More Housing for Servicemembers Act
Works to incentivize private developers and on-base housing providers to build more housing designed for servicemembers, particularly those who have a lower income.
"Maintaining the vitality of BAH is crucial to sustaining financial readiness and improving military quality of life," said Air Force Sergeants Association Chief Executive, Keith A. Reed. "Especially during this past PCS season, service members and their families were negatively impacted due to volatile market conditions and a lack of available and affordable housing. The various measures championed by Congresswoman Strickland would restore BAH to its just coverage of 100% and provide increased access to affordable housing in underserved areas. The AFSA is proud to support each of these bills and calls on all members of Congress to support their expeditious codification in public law."
The above quote from AFSA's Chief Executive, Keith A. Reed, outlining our official position, is from the following congressional press release: https://strickland.house.gov/media/press-releases/strickland-introduces-ensuring-every-servicemember-has-home-package
Yesterday, the Team updated our Legislative Action Center (LAC) to include a campaign spotlighting support for the package in its entirety.
To write to your elected officials in support of the Ensuring Every Servicemember Has a Home legislative package, please visit: https://www.votervoice.net/AFSA/campaigns/94317/respond
Now, our Team concentrates its efforts on advancing this recently introduced package through the legislative process with finality.
If you have any questions about the Ensuring Every Servicemember Has a Home legislative package, please reach out to Matthew Schwartzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.