The Basics of the Overseas Housing Allowance

by Levi Newman on August 12, 2010

For men and women serving their country abroad, the Department of Defense provides them with an Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) to help alleviate the costs of living. Annual OHA payments to military members serving abroad averages $27,000, and are comprised of three components:  rental, utility/recurring maintenance, and move-in housing.

Rental Allowances

The OHA Rental Allowance is designed to help service members with the cost of monthly rent.  Almost 80% of service members with dependents are fully reimbursed while unaccompanied members or members without dependents are entitled to 90% of with dependent rate. Other important facts about the OHA Rental Allowance include:

  • The allowance is provided through local finance offices.
  • It is determined by data provided by the Defense Manpower Data Center West.
  • It is reviewed and adjusted every 6 months, but can be reviewed and adjusted as frequently as every three months.

Utility/Recurring Maintenance Allowance

The OHA Utility/Recurring Maintenance Allowance is paid monthly to service members to alleviate the cost of utilities. Utilities for 80% of all service members with dependents are covered while 75% of unaccompanied members or members without dependents are covered by the Utility/ Recurring Maintenance Allowance. Other important information about the allowance include:

  • Paid directly to utility companies
  • Updated annually
  • Determined by surveys given to those who receive the allowance already.

Move-in Housing Allowance

To help service members with the costs associated with moving in to a new home, OHA offers a Move-in Housing Allowance (MIHA).  MIHA consists of three parts:  MIHA/ Miscellaneous, MIHA/Rent, and MIHA/Security.

  • MIHA/ Miscellaneous: a fixed rate, lump sum payment that reflects average expenditures to make dwellings habitable – heating, wardrobes.  Updated once every three years after interviewing those who are actually receiving it
  • MIHA/ Rent: an actual dollar-for-dollar payment for customary or legally required rent-related expenses – rental agents’ fee.  Fixed, one-time non-refundable charges
  • MIHA/ Security: money paid to security-related enhancements when dwellings must be modified to minimize exposure to terrorist or criminal threat.  Location has to be a MIHA Security Location.  Dollar for dollar

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