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Rent relief arrives for some San Diego military members

Active-duty service members in San Diego will see a significant bump in their housing allowance this month thanks to a temporary boost ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, according to the Pentagon.

San Diego is one of 28 areas across the country the military says have experienced rent spikes of more than 20 percent this year, outpacing the Pentagon’s 2022 housing allowance rate, the department said in a September news release.

The boost in the allowance, called Basic Allowance for Housing, begins in October and ends Dec. 31, when next year’s cost-adjusted allowance goes into effect, said Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Service members receive the allowance tax-free if they choose not to live on base or in other government-provided housing. The amount received varies based on location, pay grade and whether military members have dependents, according to the Pentagon.

The areas receiving the boost span the country. In California, they include San Diego, Vandenberg Space Force Base in Santa Barbara County and Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base in San Bernardino County. Bases in Florida and the northeastern U.S. are also seeing a boost.

For some pay grades in San Diego, the monthly increases are substantial.

For a San Diego-based E-4 with dependents, the monthly allowance jumps from $2,676 to $3,639. A service member of the same rank without dependents in San Diego will see an increase from $2,016 to $2,730 per month.

The temporary increase was one of several measures the Pentagon announced to “help strengthen the economic security and stability of service members.”

Austin directed the Pentagon to fully fund base commissaries nationwide so that retail prices are 25 percent cheaper than off-base grocery stores. It’s also instituting a “basic needs allowance” in January for service members whose household income is below 130 percent of the poverty level.

Service members can also expect a 4.6 percent base pay increase, according to the Pentagon.

For sailors and Marines in San Diego, the increase will be automatic, and service members do not have to apply or certify that their housing costs have increased, the Navy said in a news release Friday.

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