How much more housing do we need?


In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs, regardless of income, in their community.

Every eight years the state goes through a process to determine how much more housing units are needed and how they will be distributed between California’s 482 cities and 58 counties. Planning for the next eight year cycle, 2023 to 2031, has begun. The process is called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). RHNA is the state-mandated process to identify the number of housing units, by affordability level, that each jurisdiction must accommodate in the Housing Element of its General Plan (Government Code §65584).

The process begins in Sacramento with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). HCD  performs a Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) to identify the total housing need and how affordable those homes need to be—in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels across California. HCD turns these numbers over to a regional government agency know as Council of Governments (COG) to determine the numbers for each jurisdiction within the COG. There are 23 COGs in California. The nine Bay Area Counties and 101 cities are represented by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

On June 9th, HCD issued the Bay Area a housing need of 441,176 units as part of the RHND process for the years 2023 to 2031. This is an increase of about 135% from the current goal for the period between 2015 and 2023, which is 187,990 housing units, and reflects changes to state law and growth over the past eight years.

As in past RHNA cycles, ABAG has convened a Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) to advise and make recommendations on the RHNA methodology for allocating the RHND. The HMC began meeting in September 2019 and includes local elected officials and staff as well as regional stakeholders to facilitate sharing of diverse viewpoints across multiple sectors.

Some of the key topics discussed by the HMC to date include understanding the State’s new equity framework and identifying the factors to be included in the methodology for allocating a share of housing needs to every local government in the Bay Area. Over the next several months, the HMC will continue to refine the methodology factors while also discussing potential approaches for determining the distribution of units by income for each jurisdiction and considering the options on incorporating data from the Plan Bay Area 2050 Blueprint into the RHNA methodology.

More information about the HMC and its activities is available here. The page includes the roster, member biographies, and materials from HMC meetings.

Below are the current statutory deadlines for the Bay Area’s RHNA process from late 2020 to early 2023, with the latter date reflecting the deadline for updates to jurisdictions’ Housing Elements. We will share HCD’s response when it is received.

Key milestones for completing the RHNA process include:

  • June 2020 — HCD Regional Housing Needs Determination
  • Fall 2020 — Proposed RHNA methodology
  • Winter 2021 — Draft RHNA methodology to HCD for review
  • Spring 2021 — Final RHNA methodology, release draft allocation
  • Summer 2021 — RHNA appeals
  • End of 2021 — Final RHNA allocation
  • January 2023 — Local Communities Housing Elements due to HCD

The schedule is subject to potential further modifications based on decisions made by the ABAG Executive Board or changing circumstances outside our control. A more detailed RHNA schedule is available on the ABAG website.

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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