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Welcome home could mean no place to live for some soldiers
Welcome home could mean no place to live for some soldiers

Fort Drum faces housing crunch as deployment winds down

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Thousands of soldiers will be back at Fort Drum over the next few months as they rotate out of Afghanistan.

The homecoming is welcome news for those soldiers and their families, but U.S. Congressman Bill Owens said any growth in the area could exacerbate area housing. Nora Flaherty reports.

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Owens said he is pushing for legislation that would alleviate a housing crunch by encouraging housing development.

"One of the big problems Fort Drum is facing - and the Watertown community - is the fact that there’s not enough housing as the soldiers are returning from overseas," Owens said. 

Returning soldiers receive housing allowances that are currently categorized as income. That extra income can sometimes push families above the income ceiling and disqualify them from affordable housing.

Owens said that if the housing allowances were not included in the income category, more families will qualify for subsidized housing and more developers will be enticed to build.

"We're hoping we can, by making this change, increase the dollars available, and therefore the number of people available to move into rental units, and that will encourage the building of those units," Owens said.

The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, which acts as a go-between for the civilian and military communities in the area, said they support the move.

Low-income housing organizations have opposed efforts like this in the past, claiming that private developers should be able to meet the increased housing demand that that soldiers shouldn't have to depend on programs intended for low-income families.

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