Hawaii BAH Rates and Guide
As of 1st January 2023, Hawaii BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) rates have been hiked by an average of 12.1% nationally, while duty stations in Hawaii received a 16.45% increase. The announcement was made by the US Department of Defence (DoD) in mid-December of 2022, and the new rates came into effect at the beginning of the new year. This is the most significant percentage increase in BAH rates in the last 15 years.
Usually, BAH rates are revised by 2-5% to match inflation. This year, however, the compensation offered in most areas has been increased substantially. These new rates were issued mainly due to climbing housing costs nationwide. Much like the civilian population of the country, military families have been struggling to deal with skyrocketing inflation. From cutting back on essential utilities to dipping into their savings, service members and their families have been hit hard by the rising living costs.
The housing market also hasn’t been immune to rising inflation. The national average home price jumped by 29% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019, while the median monthly rent surpassed $2,000 in 2022. Amid this bleak housing situation pervading the country, the US government revised its housing allowance rates to provide its uniformed service members equitable housing compensation.
What is BAH?
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is an allowance the United States government provides to its military personnel. If members of the armed forces do not receive government-provided housing, this allowance is used to offset the housing costs. Therefore, BAH rates are not the same everywhere and are set by surveying the cost of rental properties in specific geographical areas where military individuals and families are housed.
BAH is meant to enable service members without base housing to live off-base and rent houses in civilian areas. However, this doesn’t mean the allowance will cover your entire housing expenditure. If you choose to live in a bigger house or one that costs higher than the median rent for that area, you will have to pay the difference in costs out of pocket.
What do new BAH rates for Hawaii look like?
Hawaii received a higher BAH rate than the national average because of the higher cost of living in the state. The cost of living in Honolulu, Hawaii, is 95% higher than the national average. Housing expenses are a whopping 222% higher than the national average, while the median rent is nearly $4000 per month.
Here is a brief overview of what the revised BAH rates look like in some four counties in Hawaii:
Maui County, HI BAH rates
Honolulu County, HI BAH rates
Hawaii County, HI BAH rates
Kauai County, HI BAH rates
See also Hawaii’s unemployment benefits for more context on how to get help.
How are BAH rates calculated?
When determining the BAH rates for different areas, the government looks at local rental costs and average local expenditure on utilities like groceries, electricity, water, and fuel. The BAH only considers the cost incurred to rent a property and does not consider homeownership costs.
The Defence Department uses data from multiple sources such as the US Census Bureau survey data, Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, commercial rental cost databases, online rental listing websites, and inputs from local military housing offices to come up with accurate and verifiable information. Based on the data gathered, BAH rates are revised and calculated for each year. Military personnel is stationed at roughly 300 military housing areas around the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. Basic allowance rates are therefore calculated for all 300 housing areas.
How much BAH you receive depends on several factors, such as:
- Pay grade
You can calculate precisely how much compensation you will receive in BAH by considering these factors. Enter your details and calculate your BAH compensation on this DoD webpage.
Who is eligible for the BAH program?
The criteria laid down by the DoD for deciding BAH eligibility goes as such: Any member “assigned to permanent duty within the 50 United States, who is not furnished government housing, is eligible for a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), based on the member’s rank, dependency status, and permanent duty station ZIP Code.” The allowance is offered to all US Armed Forces service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy.
Service members stationed outside the United States who have not received government housing are eligible for the Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA). The program reimburses them for expenditures on rent, utilities, and associated move-in costs.
If you have further questions or wish to initiate the process of receiving your BAH, you can contact your local command office. For more local information, you can contact your Service BAH representative.
Can my BAH be reduced?
According to the latest BAH rate revision, five of the 300 military housing areas across the US will see a decrease in their basic allowance for housing. However, thanks to the Department of Defence’s policy of Individual Rate Protection, service members whose duty location, rank, and dependency status remain the same will continue to receive the previous year’s BAH rates. This is done so that troops who have made long-term commitments via leases or contracts are not penalized because the overall housing costs in their area are going down. The areas that will receive a lower BAH rate in 2023 are Lake Charles, Louisiana (down 10%), Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico (down 4%), Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma (down 2%), Long Island, New York (down 2%), and Buffalo, New York (down 1%).
Veterans and armed forces personnel with service-related disabilities can also check for eligibility under Social Security’s disability housing assistance.