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Possible housing allowance reduction would impact soldiers, developers


Potential cuts to the housing allowances of military service members could affect soldiers at Fort Drum and developers both on and off post.

The possibility of cuts was discussed this summer by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was quoted by the Wall Street Journal in early November on the possibility of “changing how the basic allowance for housing is calculated,” with service members paying some costs out of pocket.

The review comes as the military is looking to slash tens of millions of dollars each year into the next decade as a part of sequestration.

The housing allowance rate nationwide has gone up steadily for about a decade, and in the past three years it has seen growth of about 1 to 3 percent each year. Housing allowances are set to cover market rent, utilities and renter’s insurance.

The allowance totals are usually put out around the middle of December.

Locally, Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, said he had not yet heard any feedback from post or businesses about the possibility of cuts locally.

“It’s really very early,” he said.

However, he said that it was probable the military would come up with a proposal of some kind.

If a cut were to happen, Mr. McLaughlin said it would have significant consequences.

“It’s going to take more out of pocket from military personnel to keep current rates,” he said.

For developers both on and off post, the FDRLO director said a drop in housing allowance would affect their growth and profitability.

However, Mr. McLaughlin said that a measure to cut the allowance would require Congressional approval, which he said is not likely.

“That’s a whole different game,” he said.

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