The inclusion of housing assistance in total income is the issue that prevented Tebbens from receiving assistance under the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of the Ministry of Agriculture, formerly known as food stamps. She is not alone, as only a few thousand military families are eligible for the SNAP program.
Jennifer Goodale, director of military family policy at the Military Officers Association of America, a group that advocates for service members and their families, said the organization is encouraged that the basic needs allowance is in both NDAA, but worried about the approach of the Senate.
“Those who need support the most should not have their housing allowances included in the calculation of the poverty line, as it could result in a loss for young military personnel and their families,” Goodale said.
President Joe Biden, in an administrative policy statement on the House bill, expressed support for a basic needs allowance, but said the question of whether to include housing payments requires study.
Shelter Allowance helps military personnel who live off base meet these costs. But the federal government is inconsistent as to whether to count it in the income statement for the purposes of determining eligibility for assistance. The IRS does not require it to be included in taxable income, nor does the WIC program which provides nutritional assistance to women, infants and children.