Chief Moore Announces FS Temporary Housing Refund

Here is a link; letter from Chief Moore

Let me begin by saying thank you.  Thank you for sharing your ideas and stories at our all-employee forums and the many other avenues for sharing. We heard you and are using that information to work with employees and the department to find solutions to the housing affordability crisis. 

Today, alongside Secretary Vilsack and Under Secretary Wilkes, I am pleased to announce a temporary housing refund that we estimate will benefit 4,500-5,500 employees in Forest Service housing through the end of fiscal year 2024. This refund will cover half the rent for the following Forest Service employees in government-owned housing:  

1. GS 1, step 1, through GS 10, step 10 

2. Wage-grade employees 

The refund also will cover 10% of the rent for employees GS level 11, step 1, through GS 13, step 10. 

This temporary housing refund will address the March 10 annual rental rate increase and will be retroactive to that date. Secretary Vilsack, Under Secretary Wilkes and the National Federation of Federal Employees were key to getting this refund and I am including messages of support they asked me to directly deliver to you at the bottom of this email. Employees will receive the refund within 9 to 11 weeks. It will be provided within our existing budget; we will make trade-offs to focus on this high-priority need. 

The amount of rent charged for government civilian quarters is determined according to government policy described in Circular A-45. The bipartisan Wildfire Commission has recommended review and potential updates to these policies. We and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are reviewing these recommendations.

The temporary housing refund is provided under the Secretary’s emergency subsistence authority under Section 5 of the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1956, 7 U.S.C. 2228, which was delegated to Under Secretary Wilkes and the Chief of the Forest Service. This emergency subsistence authority authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to provide subsistence, including for quarters, during emergency conditions. 

Since this refund relies upon specific emergency conditions, it is temporary while emergency conditions last. USDA’s Forest Service anticipates leveraging the emergency authority for no more than a year while we concurrently work on government policy changes that address the emergency conditions. Once emergency conditions are addressed, the Forest Service will provide a 60-day advance notice to employees announcing the end of the emergency housing refund. If you live in government-owned housing, there will be future information sessions to help you understand the housing refund and answer any questions you may have. These sessions are tentatively scheduled for the week of July 8. More information will be provided, to include virtual invitation links. Frequently asked questions are available on the National Housing Hub SharePoint site.


I also want to acknowledge that this refund doesn’t benefit all our employees. Housing affordability significantly affects the lives of employees across the agency. We are taking this action with the authority and resources available to us. We need to use all the tools in our toolbox, even if they aren’t as far-reaching as we’d like. We continue to: 

1. Submit housing-specific budget requests for congressional consideration through the annual budget process. 

2. Use all possible funds from the FY 2024 budget to prioritize investments in employee housing. 

3. Finalize the National Housing Strategy, a comprehensive plan that will assist the agency in addressing the affordability, availability and condition of Forest Service housing. 

4. Continue to make progress and administer our existing Quarters Program thanks to employees like our national housing project manager, Procurement and Property Services housing managers, and district-based tenant managers. 

5. Collaborate with NFFE. 

These collective efforts are consistent with our needs and align with the recommendations of the bipartisan Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. We continue to explore other creative opportunities to assist you with obtaining affordable housing. I want to emphasize our unwavering commitment to ensuring you have access to safe, comfortable and affordable housing near your duty station.  


Your well-being is of utmost importance to us, and we will persist in our efforts to provide you with the support and resources you need to thrive in your role for the Forest Service. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.  

1 thought on “Chief Moore Announces FS Temporary Housing Refund”

  1. Wow, that’s a “180” on policy! Beginning in the early 2000’s, it became the Agency’s goal to remove every temp housing, or “Quarters” they could lay their hands on! I started out in Quarters, on the Ochoco, and loved the opportunity to not only work in the sticks but live there too. Government Quarters was a fine amenity for temp, as well as full-time employees.

    Quarters, not to be confused with Facilities, were enemy number one for reducing deferred maintenance on National Forests. I still have marks on my knuckles from learning hard lessons at the hands of a property management specialist. However, I finally learned……

    As a Line Officer, I always balked at reducing real property on NF’s, realizing the value of these assets for employee housing. Of course, the funding was always an issue, and overhead taps on Quarters drained needed funds to alleviate that pesky deferred maintenance budget item.

    It’s good the Chief has turned this wagon around, even if the gate was closed “after” the horses got out…. So to speak…..🤣


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