Owens looks to make housing more affordable for troops

North Country Congressman Bill Owens introduced legislation late last week that aims to make housing more affordable for members of the Armed Services and their families.

According to Owens, the Military Families Affordable Homes Act corrects a formula that currently keeps military personnel from competing for access to low-cost housing.

Owens says making it easier for American troops to find affordable housing allows them to focus on their mission.

He adds that the bill also takes a major step toward alleviating the housing crunch in an around the Fort Drum Army Base in Watertown. The Democrat from New York's 23rd Congressional District says his bill provides incentives to builders to construct new affordable housing units.

Owens says that today, real estate developers who build and maintain affordable rental properties are eligible for certain tax credits. But to obtain those tax credits, tenants must meet a designated income level. Most servicemen and women fall under the maximum threshold, but the current formula includes Basic Allowance for Housing, which ends up disqualifying them.

Congress previously passed a measure exempting the housing allowance from the formula, but it only applied to specific military installations.

The legislation introduced by Owens last week extends the policy to military personnel stationed at any installation nationwide.

"It is critical that we help ensure soldiers at Fort Drum have opportunities to make their home in the North Country both on and off post," Owens said, noting that Congress owes it to service members to help them find affordable housing for themselves and their families.

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