Housing pay: How did they figure?

Local property managers say Navy never surveyed them about local rental rates

  • Friday, January 7, 2000 7:00pm
  • News

“So how did the Pentagon determine that it was now less expensive to live on Whidbey Island?Ironically, the new housing allowance rates were instituted in response to complaints from military men and women that the rates were too low.To improve that situation, defense officials surveyed 400 locations across the US and came up with a rent and mortgage average for each of the areas, said Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Catherine Abbott.The idea, she said, “Was that a service member stationed at Whidbey Island will be paying the same amount out of their pocket (for rent or mortgage) as a service member in any part of the United States.”Previously, Abbott said, the basic allowance for housing was determined partly by surveying service members on what they paid on average, for housing in a particular area. Another determining factor included pay grade and dependency status.One of the problems with that system, Abbott said, was that some service members were living in cheaper housing intentionally, to make money off of their basic allowance for housing.Under the new system, defense officials themselves determined the median cost for housing in the 400 areas for civilians and military housing, as opposed to relying on service member surveys. As a result, housing allowances went up for 60 percent of service members. But the rates either stayed the same or went down for the other 40 percent.On Whidbey, the rates went down. The move won’t affect people who are already here, but will affect anyone who picks up a new dependent, gets promoted, or transfers here.Asked exactly how the Pentagon determined that the housing allowance on Whidbey should be reduced, Abbott said she wasn’t certain.“I don’t now if anyone actually came to Whidbey Island,” Abbott said.Of 11 property management firms on Whidbey contacted by the News-Times, none had spoken to, or been contacted by, Pentagon officials seeking information on housing or rental prices.Asked if the Pentagon considered that the housing allowance reductions might hurt morale — that the new pay raise was supposed to boost — Abbott said the program was intended to improve the quality of life for service members throughout the U.S.“The purpose is not to take money away from people; the purpose is to make housing more affordable,” she said.”

More in News

Man uninjured in rollover on icy Madrona Way

A 23-year-old man was uninjured after his Chevy pickup rolled over on… Continue reading

Class teaches disaster readiness

‘There’s no reason not to be prepared’

State lawmaker aims to improve recycling process

Many people feel a sense of accomplishment when they opt to recycle… Continue reading

Van driver accused of ramming pickup truck

The driver of a van is accused of chasing a down a… Continue reading

New building permit fees expected to reduce costs

The Board of Island County Commissioners is set to vote on building… Continue reading

Contributed photo — Erin Kelly was so appreciative of Marc Swenson’s efforts that she baked him a “Thank You” cake.
Volunteer firefighter saves neighbor’s home

A quick response by a local firefighter may have helped save a… Continue reading

Gifts from the Heart turns sweet 16

Clients at Gifts at the Heart Food Bank will be in for… Continue reading

Man arrested for pawning stolen student robotics club’s telescope

A man faces a felony charge after getting caught pawning a telescope… Continue reading

Whidbey News Group file photo
                                Blake Fountain was arrested by Island County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rob Davison after he burned down a Useless Bay Colony home and partially destroyed another in July 2017.
Man who burned down two homes pleads guilty to lesser charge

A man who started a fire that burned down two homes on… Continue reading

Most Read