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Incoming Fort Drum soldiers will have fewer days of reimbursed lodging expenses in 2013

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FORT DRUM — Soldiers and families arriving on post will be reimbursed for only 10 days’ worth of temporary lodging expenses this year, a decrease from 30 days that was inspired by increases in the number of on- and off-post residences and more clear policies for soldiers waiting for on-post housing.

“It says we’re on the right road to a stabilized market,” said Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization. “We’re not there yet, but those demands that are put on the local market because of the constant turnover of soldiers, those are almost met in a satisfactory way.”

The change, which went into effect Tuesday, brings the post in line with nearly every other military installation in the country. The only exception is Fort Bliss, Texas, which allows 60 days to be claimed.

Fort Drum’s totals were allowed to increase starting in 2007, when the number of days that could be claimed increased from 10 to 20. It jumped from 20 to 60 in 2008.

“We were out of sync with the rest of the military, with limited availability and the lack of housing,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

The number of claimable days fell from 60 to 30 in 2012.

Mr. McLaughlin said policies over the past two years, such as the post’s reimbursing only one move for soldiers that went into effect in fall 2011, helped bring the number of claimable days down.

He added the post in 2012 also alleviated some of the issues by clarifying its housing waiting list to make it more clear about whether a soldier could receive on-post housing. Previously, soldiers and their families would delay their search for housing as they waited for an opening.

“We created that scenario, that they would wait out the list,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “It was artificially created.”

Mr. McLaughlin said the system now in place is more equitable and fair.

While he said he saw good progress in dealing with demand from post, Mr. McLaughlin said more housing would be needed to bring additional stability to the community

Barring increased growth from the post, he said, the area’s housing market could be in “good shape” based on current development by the end of 2013 or early in 2014.

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