01.06.09

SCHUMER TO DOD: REASSESS LOCAL TROOP GROWTH DATA SO THAT FORT DRUM SOLDIERS CAN HAVE ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING, BOOST ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Based on Their 28% Growth Records, Fort Drum Should Be Added to IRS List That Would Allow More Soldiers - Especially Young Soldiers With Families - to Qualify for Affordable HousingBut IRS Denied the Request Because Agency Uses Department of Defense's Dated and Inaccurate Manpower Analysis Agency Data That Shows Much Lower Growth at Fort DrumCiting Vast Discrepancies between DOD and Fort Drum Data, Schumer Writes Letter to DOD Urging an Immediate Reassessment of Populati

 

 

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to reevaluate the population data for Fort Drum so that more local soldiers can qualify for affordable housing. Currently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has denied Fort Drum's request to be added to a basic housing allowance exclusion list because the agency is using inaccurate data provided by the DOD. If the DOD updated their data to reflect Fort Drum's actual population data, it would be more likely that the IRS could approve the application, bringing affordable housing to soldiers and their families.

 

In an effort to help more 10 th Mountain Division soldiers qualify for a muchneeded affordable housing taxcredit, Schumer today personally pushed the DOD to reevaluate the population data at Fort Drum, which shows an over 28% percent surge since 2005 - making the Fort eligible to be included in the military's basic housing allowance exclusion list.

 

"Our soldiers heed our nation's call and the least we can do is make sure they can afford a home for themselves and their family. That's why I'm calling on the Department of Defense to reevaluate its population data at Fort Drum so that it more accurately reflects the Fort's surge in growth over the past three years," Schumer said. "Fort Drum soldiers deserve the opportunity and the resources to have a roof over their head that they can afford."

 

The IRS recently turned down Fort Drum's application to be able to exclude the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) from the definition of income used to determine eligibility for federally subsidized housing. Across the country, nine other Army bases have already been afforded this opportunity.

 

Sweeping housing legislation passed by Congress last summer, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, contained a provision allowing soldiers at "qualified" military bases to exclude their BAH, which helps pay for rent and utilities at offpost residences, from income when applying for lowincome housing tax credits.

 

The provision is helpful for young enlistees who have only a modest income with which to support a family. To qualify, the legislation stipulates that the population of the military base must have grown by 20 percent between December 31, 2005 and June 1, 2008. The Department of Defense's Manpower Analysis Agency (MAA) inaccurately claims there were 16,236 soldiers at Fort Drum in 2005 and 16,852 in 2008, an increase of 3.8 percent. Yet the Fort's records indicate that there were 14,911 soldiers in 2005 and 19,122 in June, a 28.2 percent surge.

 

In an effort to help young soldiers in tough economic times, and to boost local economic growth and development, Schumer today wrote a personal letter to DOD Secretary Gates requesting the agency to reassess Fort Drum's troop numbers.

 

Schumer wrote, "In these tough economic times, the brave soldiers at Fort Drum-and their families-need the extra boost these housing subsidies provide."

 

A full copy of the letter is below:

 

 

January 6, 2009

 

 

Dear Secretary Gates:

 

I write to seek your assistance in resolving an issue pertaining to Fort Drum, the Jefferson County, New York Army base. The young men and women at Fort Drum would like to be able to exclude their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) from the definition of income used to determine eligibility for federally subsidized housing-an opportunity already afforded.

 

The sweeping housing legislation passed by Congress last summer (H.R. 3221) contained a provision allowing soldiers at "qualified" military bases to exclude their BAH, which helps pay for rent and utilities at offpost residences, from income when applying for lowincome housing tax credits. This provision is particularly helpful for young enlistees who have only a modest income with which to support a family. To qualify, the legislation stipulates that the population of the military base must have grown by 20 percent between December 31, 2005 and June 1, 2008. Your Department's Manpower Analysis Agency (MAA) claims that there were 16,236 soldiers at Fort Drum in 2005 and 16,852 in 2008, an increase of 3.8 percent. Yet the Fort's records indicate that there were 14,911 soldiers in 2005 and 19,122 in June, a 28.2 percent surge.

 

Given the tremendous discrepancy between the two calculations, and the importance of the tax credits at stake, I kindly request that you have the MAA reassess Fort Drum's troop numbers. In these tough economic times, the brave soldiers at Fort Drum-and their families-need the extra boost these housing subsidies provide.

 

Thank you in advance for your consideration and timely review of this matter.

 

 

 



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