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Pentagon to subsidize off-base rents for military

Updated June 1, 2022 - 6:43 pm

WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials announced Wednesday they will pay a subsidy for junior military members who are forced to live outside of bases — including those at Nellis and Creech Air Force bases in Nevada, where rents have skyrocketed.

Increased aid for junior military personnel was sought by Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, after she visited with airmen from Nellis and Creech last year.

“It was heartbreaking to hear that junior enlisted airmen at Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases were ordered to move off-base without receiving their dislocation allowance to pay for the high cost of housing,” Rosen said.

She ensured costs to cover assistance for moving, deposits or utilities were included in the National Defense Authorization Act last year.

Rosen said ensuring military personnel receive benefits they deserve is a priority, “especially now, when housing costs are rising rapidly.”

The assistance statute in the defense bill was adopted by lawmakers who represent military installations and communities nationwide. Military branches will provide a one-time $840 payment for dislocation, money to move and sign a lease.

That is in addition to current, monthly assistance based on rank, dependents and geography. It’s available, nationwide, for members of all military branches.

In Nevada, military personnel at all installations who live off base are eligible for monthly benefits, depending on their status. For Fallon Naval Air Station, those living off base receive aid between $969 to $2,121, per month, according to Veteran.com, a private, non-governmental organization.

Those personnel living off base at Nellis and Creech receive between $1,425 to $2,469, according to Veteran.com. The formula is based on providing 95 percent of costs for off-base housing.

Overall, the monthly aid program is expected to cost $25.6 billion this year and help roughly one million service members.

Nellis employs roughly 9,000 military and civilian workers, making it one of the largest employers in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The census estimated the base population to be 3,500.

A Nellis spokesman did not comment on questions about military housing.

But a lack of adequate housing has put Air Force personnel at a disadvantage, forcing them to live off base and pay rents at prevailing market value.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, Military Officers Association of America president and chief executive officer, said that “years of deferred maintenance and aging barracks have led some installations to shut down their facilities and force young service members to find an apartment.”

They are met with soaring prices because of lack of availability and inflation, Atkins said.

Of the 15 U.S. metro areas where rents are soaring the most, Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise ranked No. 2 in 2022 with a median increase of 24.8 percent, rising to $1,485 from $1,190 monthly, according to a study by Stessa Inc., a California-based rental firm.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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