Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a U.S.-based allowance that provides uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local housing markets when government quarters are not provided. A Service member stationed overseas, who does not have government housing available, is eligible for Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA). Approximately $21 billion is paid to approximately 1 million members.
BAH rates are based on local area rental market data and vary by geographic duty station, pay grade and dependency status. The cost of utilities is also considered.
BAH is based only on rental properties, not homeownership costs like mortgage payments and property taxes.
BAH also includes rate protection. This means, if a member’s current BAH rate is less than the previous year, the member receives at least the same amount of BAH as the previous year, provided that the member’s duty location, rank and dependency status stays the same. If BAH rates go up, the member will receive the higher BAH rate as long as eligibility is uninterrupted. This ensures that members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area’s housing costs decrease.