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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, December 19, 2018 1:00 am

Local Guard getting housing boost

Full-time personnel to see 'corrective action'

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks said Tuesday that the Department of Defense is increasing the housing allowance for full-time personnel at Fort Wayne's Air National Guard base after he and other federal lawmakers from Indiana challenged this year's allocations.

The allowance compensates uniformed service members who are assigned to bases that do not provide living quarters. Banks, R-3d, said local rates set for next year for the 122nd Fighter Wing demonstrate “corrective action” taken by the Defense Travel Management Office.

“This increase more accurately reflects housing costs in northeast Indiana and directly impacts the quality of life for over 200 Hoosier service members and their families,” Banks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

Last January, Banks and Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Todd Young, R-Ind., urged the director of the Defense Travel Management Office to re-evaluate the housing allowance rates for the Fort Wayne base. The lawmakers wrote that the office had established the rates using  “inaccurate or incomplete” local housing market data, much of it dating back to 2003.

Housing allowance rates for this year ranged from $822 a month to $1,392, depending on pay grade and whether an airman has dependents. The 2019 rates will range from $870 a month to $1,890 – increases of 5.8 percent on the low end and 36 percent on the high end.

The Defense Department said Friday in a news release that it was raising housing allowance rates by an average of 2.55 percent nationwide for 2019. It said it would pay an estimated $21 million to 1 million service members.

Rates are based on median market rent and the average cost of utilities, the department said.