Fort Drum soldiers housing allowance will go up as much as 15 percent in 2014, a much higher jump than the military average nationwide, according to figures released Tuesday by the Department of Defense.
Lower-ranking soldiers who use the allowance to pay for off-post housing will see the greatest increase, but some officers, too, will receive a double-digit raise. The rates are calculated based on median current market rent, average utilities and average renters insurance. The new rates go into effect Jan. 1.
As one local example, service members with the rank of E-1 through E-4 who have dependents will see their monthly rate increase from $1,266 to $1,428, a 12.8 percent rise. For those without dependents, their rate will rise from $948 to $1,071, a 13 percent increase.
Sergeants and second lieutenants without dependents, meanwhile, will collect about 15 percent more.
Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, said he felt the numbers were a sign of market demand for housing. He said the increase in rates would help developers expand their projects.
They have to build it and fill it, and still have a viable market to continue building, Mr. McLaughlin said. This indicates that there is still demand out there.
Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors, along with the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors, said the increased rates could also help local military members buy a house.
Mr. Evans and Mr. McLaughlin pointed out that Fort Drums rates were comparable to several major markets in the state.
The same E-1 through E-4 without dependents who would receive $1,071 locally would get $990 in Rochester, $1,017 in Buffalo and $1,203 in Albany and Ballston Spa.
Mr. Evans said he hoped landlords would use the increase in money to improve their offerings. He acknowledged that the higher rates could affect rents for nonmilitary residents.
They might be living close to the limit, and then their rents go up, he said.
Nationwide, the average monthly rate is going up about $79 for service members with dependents, and $76 for those without them. The departments news release said the average increase in housing allowance is 5 percent.
The DOD noted that in areas where rates decreased, they would apply only to service members newly arriving at those locations.
Across the military, an estimated $20 billion will be paid to approximately 1 million service members in 2014.
The militarys housing allowance calculator can be found at http://wdt.me/Ha5mTR.