BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Across the nation, the median-existing home price has risen 23.6% in May 2021 from a year earlier, a record high, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Prior to this rise, military members benefitted from their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which is an allowance pay for the local cost of housing near their duty station.
Now even with BAH, Airmen from Beale are finding themselves in increasingly uncertain situations, some not knowing where they’ll be living or if they’ll be able to find housing. This is in addition to the limited number of houses on base.
2nd Lt. Marcus Dunlap, 9th Communication Squadron (CS) Mission Defense Team Officer in Charge, is one of Beale’s Airmen who have had to find an extranormal solution to the current housing crisis in Northern California.
“Housing is extremely expensive in this area,” Dunlap said. “In general, the cost of living in California is high relative to other states. It's just a supply and demand issue, there are too few houses and too many people that want them.”
BAH no longer matches the cost of living in Northern California due to the nation-wide rise in housing prices. Renting has also become incredibly competitive.
“One of the avenues provided to help the situation was allowing active-duty members to stay at Family Camp, the on base RV park, for more than four months on and one month off cycle,” Dunlap said. “They have about 20 spots open for people to stay there in a more permanent fashion.”
This solution does help, but doesn’t account for all of the Airmen on Beale. Staff Sgt. Derek Miller, 9th CS cyber host specialist, also felt the effects of the current housing market.
“My landlord gave me a 60-day notice to move out,” Miller said. “He decided he wanted to sell his properties to capitalize on the current housing price bubble.”
Trying to find housing that works for himself, his wife and their dog was a challenge. Landlords discriminate what dogs they will or won't allow their tenants to have by weight, most not allowing any dogs more than 20 pounds, which Miller’s dog is much larger than.
“The only real options for us were apartments, as most houses don't come up for rent within 60 days,” Miller said. “The time required to find a place is intense. My wife is an active-duty firefighter with another part-time job, leaving most of the work finding housing on me. I had to take time out of my work day, at times nearly the whole day, and ask others to help pick up my slack.”
Some landlords are reporting up to 60 individual applications for listings during their first day on the market, Miller added.
The situation is dire for some, but not hopeless. Miller was able to find an apartment, although it is 30% more expensive and 50% smaller.
“Our team is our priority,” said Col. Heather Fox, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander. “Finding ways to ensure their wellbeing is at the top of our list. We are currently pursuing several options for Airmen having concerns and difficulties finding homes in this current market. BAH being reassessed is the first and other avenues to make sure we can get them all into accommodations that suit their particular needs.”
Beale’s Fam Camp is potentially going to open more slots for permanent residents, expanding a program that has been a huge relief for Airmen.
The priority for Beale leadership is to help Airmen get into adequate living conditions in this current rise in housing.
If you are experiencing housing challenges, please contact the Military Housing Office, they can help advocate for you and connect you to additional resources, 530-634-2731 or 9CES.CEIH.Housing@us.af.mil. For additional housing information, visit the Air Force Housing and Beale AFB Homes websites.