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Rental Housing Programs: Excluding Servicemembers' Housing Allowances from Income Determinations Would Increase Eligibility, but Other Factors May Limit Program Use

GAO-06-784 Published: Jul 31, 2006. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2006.
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Although the Department of Defense (DOD) pays active-duty servicemembers who do not live in military housing a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to help them afford private market residences, expected growth at some military installations has raised concerns about whether nearby communities will have enough affordable rental housing for incoming personnel. In response to a congressional mandate, GAO assessed (1) how excluding BAH would affect servicemembers' eligibility to apply for federal rental housing programs and (2) factors that could affect their use of the programs in selected communities gaining military personnel. GAO compared servicemembers' eligibility for the programs as of December 2005 by including and excluding BAH from income determinations and examined factors affecting potential program use near four growing military installations.


Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
If the primary intent of excluding Basic Allowance for Housing from income determinations for federal rental housing programs is to help increase the supply of rental housing that servicemembers with the lowest incomes could afford, Congress may wish to consider first applying such a change only to programs intended to stimulate production of such housing, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and tax-exempt multifamily housing bonds.
Closed – Implemented
Consistent with our Matter for Congressional Consideration, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, enacted on July 30, 2008, included a provision excluding the military's basic allowance for housing from income determinations for a rental housing production program. Specifically, the provision states that the housing allowance should be disregarded for the purpose of determining the income of individuals and area median gross income for residential rental properties that receive tax-exempt multifamily housing bonds. The provision applies only to properties that would be located in counties that host or are adjacent to military installations whose number of active service members grew by at least 20 percent between December 31, 2005, and June 1, 2008.

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Eligibility determinationsFederal aid programsHousingHousing allowancesHousing programsIncome statisticsMilitary basesMilitary payMilitary personnelMilitary policiesRental housing