U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congress member Dan Donovan today announced that the just-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a key amendment for Staten Island’s student veterans. The bill, which is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law, requires the Department of Defense (DOD) re-evaluate Staten Island’s basic allowance for housing (BAH) for student veterans. The re-evaluation means a new BAH for Staten Island is determined using the most recent housing data available.
“Our service members and their families sacrifice so much to serve our country and in return we must serve them by removing any barriers that prevent them from accessing affordable housing,” said Senator Schumer. “The least we can do is make sure they have a roof over their head in the nation they fought to protect. It makes no sense that the housing benefit for Staten Island isn’t the same as all the other boroughs. The just-passed NDAA bill requires the feds to re-evaluate Staten Island’s housing allowance for student veterans by using the most recent housing data available.”
“The opportunity to reassess federal funding for Staten Island’s student veterans is great news,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Our veterans should be focused on their education, not struggling to pay for housing. This provision will allow our veterans in Staten Island to have access to the same benefits that their fellow student veterans in the rest of New York City already enjoy. I will always fight in the Senate to make sure our veterans have the resources they need when they come home.”
“The Department of Defense needs to merge Staten Island’s military housing area with the rest of New York City. While we continue our push to make that a reality, the provision that will be signed into law shortly requires DOD to update its Staten Island rental analysis, hopefully resulting in a boost for student-vets. I’m glad we were successful in getting this provision into the final bill,” said Rep. Donovan.
The Department of Defense provides a stipend, known as BAH, to student veterans to help pay for rent. According to DOD, the BAH depends on location, pay grade and whether the individual has dependents. The rates are set by surveying the cost of rental properties in each geographic location.
Currently, the BAH for Staten Island is different than the BAH for the rest of New York City. The lawmakers explained that it is unfair for Staten Island to be treated differently, especially because the formula is determined based on where the student goes to school not where the student lives. Therefore, students who live outside the borough but commute to Staten Island for school may be shortchanged under the current formula.
The just-passed NDAA bill will re-evaluate the current BAH for Staten Island student veterans using the most recent housing data.