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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 15, 2021

House hunting help for the 2021 PCS season

By Coast Guard Office of Military Personnel, Housing and Compensation Divisions 

Each permanent change of station (PCS) season brings its own unique challenges. This year, COVID-19 restrictions have combined with a critical housing and transportation shipping shortages will not make things any easier.

According to the National Association of Realtors, home prices around the country are continuing to surge. In the last three years, the national median home price has increased about 20%, with annual increases of 6% on average. Meanwhile, in some areas home prices are hitting warp speeds. Seattle and Denver metro areas have experienced about 40% price gains in the last three years.

What does this mean?  The housing inventory on the economy is low while the demand is high, so if you are looking to buy or rent a home, off-base prices are high, and there is aggressive competition.

Start looking right away

First and foremost, don’t wait until you arrive in the area of your new permanent duty station (PDS) to start looking for housing. Contact your sponsor for information from your new command. Whether you’re looking to buy or rent start looking as soon as you know the area of your new PDS. This will allow you to gauge the housing market in the area of your new PDS and help determine which housing option is the best for you and your family.

Please remember, in accordance with the Coast Guard Housing Manual, assignment to Coast Guard owned housing is mandatory when available. Members in receipt of PCS orders must submit an Application for Assignment to Housing, DD Form 1746, and a copy of their PCS orders to the housing officer at their new duty station.

Your Local Housing Office can help

The local housing office (LHO) will be able to give you guidance on available Coast Guard owned or leased housing (family and unaccompanied), Department of Defense (DOD) owned housing, and public private venture (PPV) housing. LHOs maintain a housing referral list of local community-based housing including apartment complexes and real estate contacts.

Please keep in mind that PPV housing sites typically give priority to the sponsoring services members, however Coast Guard members can receive equal priority and/or can be placed on a waiting list. Depending on the PPV housing site, managers might provide you an estimate of how long you can expect to wait.

Another source for your housing search is Homes.Mil, which is a DOD/CG sponsored site that allows lessors to post rental properties specifically targeting military members.

Get Sponsored

Use your assigned sponsor to assist you with identifying potential housing. Your ombudsman, and family focused social media groups are actively sharing real estate options and are worth leveraging in your search.

Useful policies to know and understand

BAH/Housing Flexibility Program:  Under the “Family Stability Act” members are allowed basic allowance for housing (BAH) or housing flexibility to support the advance or delayed travel (up to 180 days) of their dependents during the covered relocation period. The covered relocation period begins 180 days before the date of the PCS, which is the member’s official PCS departure date from their current permanent duty station (PDS), and ends 180 days after their PCS departure date. 

The Family Stability Act only applies to PCS transfers within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) for members who have one of the following situations:

  • A spouse who is gainfully employed or enrolled in a degree, certificate, or license-granting program.
  • One or more dependents attending an elementary or secondary school.
  • One or more dependents enrolled in the Coast Guard Special Needs Program.
  • An immediate family member with a chronic or long-term illness at the beginning of the covered relocation period for whom the member is caring.

Housing flexibility options include:

  • Continuation of housing for the spouse and other dependents. If a spouse or other dependent of a member whose request is approved resides in government-owned or government-leased housing at the beginning of the covered relocation period, the spouse or other dependent may continue to reside in such housing during the covered relocation period.
  • Early housing eligibility. If a spouse or other dependent of a member whose request is approved is eligible to reside in government-owned or government-leased housing following the member’s permanent change of station within the United States, the spouse or other dependent may commence residing in such housing at any time during the covered relocation period.
  • Temporary use of government-owned or leased single-type housing intended for members without a spouse or dependent. If a member’s spouse or other dependent relocates at a time different from the member in accordance with an approved request, the member may be assigned to government-owned or government-leased housing intended for the permanent housing of members’ dependents until the member’s detachment date of the dependents’ arrival date, but only if such government-owned or government-leased housing is available without displacing a single member at such housing.
  • Equitable BAH. The member’s dependent(s) may perform PCS travel at a different time than the member once the PCS order has been issued. Unless otherwise authorized or approved for a different location, the members housing allowance is based on the PDS. However, an eligible member may request a housing allowance based on the dependents location. If authorized or approved for dependents who relocate in advance or after the member’s housing allowance may be based on one of the following:
  • The new PDS.
  • The dependents location when the member departs for the new PDS (only for the period of time the dependents reside at that location).
  • The area of the members former PDS, but only if that area is different from the area in which the spouse or other dependents reside. The member has departed their former PDS, and the dependent remains in the residence shared with the member.

Members who would like to apply must complete and submit the Family Stability Act BAH/Housing Worksheet (CG-7220H).

Unusually Arduous Sea Duty: Members with dependents being assigned to an unusually arduous sea duty vessel may leave their dependents at their current duty station or relocate their dependents to a designated place, if so desired. See the Coast Guard Pay Manual, COMDTINST M7220.29(series), Ch. 3, sec. C.5.b, for more information.  Members will complete and submit the Housing Allowance Protection Worksheet (CG-2025A).

Critical Housing Areas: If your new assignment is in a designated Critical Housing Area (CHA), and you have no intention of relocating your dependents to the CHA, you can submit a CG-2025A to request BAH for the location of your dependents or if eligible, your previous duty station. See Critical Housing Areas (CHA), COMDTINST 11101.15A and the Coast Guard Pay Manual, COMDTINST M7220.29(series), Ch. 3, sec. C.5.c, for more information.

Storage of Household Goods (HHG): Members who ship their HHG prior to attaining housing are reminded that HHG may be placed in storage in transit (SIT) at government expense for up to 90 days. The 90-day period starts effective the date the HHG enter storage.

When the HHGs cannot be withdrawn during the first 90 days, transportation officers (TO) have the authority to extend storage up to a total of 180 days. Any extension needed after 180 days must go to COMDT CG-1332 through the TO. Members must request a time-limit extension by stating in writing the reason due to circumstances beyond a member’s control that additional SIT is required. Requests for a time-limit extension of SIT must be submitted via the member’s command and TO, to COMDT (CG-1332) in sufficient time to process prior to the expiration date.

Unaccompanied Personnel Housing(UPH): Housing options for members choosing to leave their dependents at a previous PDS is limited to available housing on the economy, or if available UPH transient rooms. Assignments to available UPH transient rooms will be considered a short-term solution until the member can make permanent housing arrangements. But keep in mind, when using UPH transient rooms, service fees will apply, and if transient rooms are needed for a higher priority resident you must vacate within three days at your own expense.