Background

Every seven to eight years, the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process is used to assign each city and county in California their “fair share” of new housing units to build. These homes are intended to accommodate existing need and projected growth in the region. The RHNA process is critical because it requires all cities and counties to plan for the housing needs of their residents, at all income levels, in an effort to plan for future growth and ease the Bay Area’s acute housing crisis. The planning portion of the next RHNA cycle is already in progress, and will cover the 8.5-year period between June 30, 2023 and December 15, 2031.

Unfortunately, many cities and counties regularly fall short of their RHNA targets, as the Bay Area’s housing crisis continues to grow. Each spring, jurisdictions are required to provide an Annual Progress Report to show how effective their efforts have been in achieving housing development targets by income level. You can view the progress of your local jurisdiction HERE and compare with the RHNA progress of other Santa Clara County jurisdictions.

Want your city to do better? Now is the time to get involved! Cities are making plans to implement the next RHNA through the Housing Element, laying the foundation and creating the conditions for thousands of new homes to be built. How feasible and successful these plans are depends on the involvement of housing advocates like you!

Housing Element Timeline

What’s going on in your city?

Many cities in Santa Clara County are beginning to release Public Draft Housing Elements, holding Housing Element study sessions for Councils and Planning Commissions and community engagement events. Click your city name below for a city-specific calendar of Housing Element study sessions, community engagement events, and helpful resources to support your advocacy, updated every Monday. This is a critical time for advocates to weigh in on your city’s housing plan for the next eight years! Nothing scheduled for your city? Sign up for updates!

Campbell

Find updates and materials at Campbell’s Housing Elements Webpage. You can register to receive updates from the city by clicking the green bar at the top of the page, and participate in Campbell’s Plan for Housing Community Survey.

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Campbell.

 

Cupertino

Find updates, materials, and recordings of past events at Cupertino’s Housing Elements Webpage. You can register to receive updates from the City by signing up for e-Notifications on the right side of the webpage.

  • Community Meeting on the Cupertino Housing Element – May 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hybrid event with the option to attend in-person at the Cupertino Community Hall (10350 Torre Avenue) or remotely through Zoom. Whether you plan to attend in person or on Zoom, register in advance here

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Cupertino.

Gilroy

Find updates and materials at Gilroy’s Housing Elements Webpage. You can register to receive updates from the city by clicking the green bar at the top of the page.

Take a short online housing survey in English or Spanish

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Gilroy.

Los Altos

Find basic information on the City’s Housing Element Webpage. Questions and comments can be directed to  housingelement@losaltosca.gov

You can also schedule an in-person or virtual small group meeting and presentation by City staff for your organization or group! Request meeting

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Los Altos.

Los Gatos

If you are interested in upcoming Housing Element Update meetings, participation in the process or general information, please send an email to HEUpdate@losgatosca.gov. Materials and updates are available on the town’s Housing Element Webpage. You are also encouraged to sign up for the Town’s Notify Me subscription.

 

  • Take a survey to help guide the Los Gatos Housing Element process

 

Los Gatos is updating their General Plan at the same time the Housing Element process is being completed. The General Plan is the long-range planning document the Housing Element is part of. Learn more, watch for updates, and review past event recordings here!

 

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Los Gatos.

Milpitas

Find information on the city’s Housing Element Webpage. Email housingelement@ci.milpitas.ca.gov if you would like to be added to the email list.

  • City Council Housing Subcommittee: Updates and Draft Site Inventory (In-person only) – May 25 @ 2:00 pm City Hall first floor, Committee Conference Room; City Hall 455 E. Calaveras Bl., Milpitas, CA  Learn more
  • City Council: Updates and Draft Site Inventory (In person or online) – June 7 @ 7:00 pm at City Council Chambers; City Hall 455 E. Calaveras Bl., Milpitas, CA, or Zoom registration link will be posted here

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Milpitas.

Morgan Hill

Find updates, materials, and recordings of past events at Morgan Hill’s Housing Elements Webpage. You can register to receive updates from the city by clicking Notify Me on the webpage.

  • Take the Housing Needs Survey. Help shape the future of housing in Morgan Hill by completing this 10-question survey. One survey can be submitted per person. You can access the survey in English or in Spanish.

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Morgan Hill.

 

Mountain View

Find more updates, materials, and recordings of past events at Mountain View’s Housing Element Website. You can sign up for updates by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the Housing Element webpage and entering your email.

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Mountain View.

Palo Alto

Find updates and materials at Palo Alto’s Housing Elements Webpage. You can register to receive updates from the city by scrolling to the bottom of the webpage and entering your information.

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Palo Alto.

San Jose

Find updates, materials, and resources at San Jose’s Housing Elements Webpage. Register to receive updates from the city by clicking on the green circle labeled “Sign up for updates.”

  • Community Meeting Series #3 – Goals, Strategies & Policies for Housing
    • On Zoom: Wednesday, May 25, 2022 – 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. on Zoom (registration
    • On Zoom: Wednesday, June 1, 2022 – 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. on Zoom (registration
    • In-Person: Saturday, June 4, 2022 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (registration)
    • Gardner Community Center, 520 W. Virginia St, San Jose
  • Take the San Jose Housing Element Survey
    • Survey: What do you think of our Housing Strategies? – ENGLISH
    • Encuesta: ¿Qué opinas de nuestras Estrategias de Vivienda? – ESPAÑOL
    • Khảo sát: Quý vị nghĩ sao về những chiến lược cho Yếu tố Nhà? – TIẾNG VIỆT

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for San Jose.

Santa Clara

At this time, the City of Santa Clara does not have a webpage to communicate with residents about the Housing Element process in the City.

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Santa Clara.

Unincorporated Santa Clara County

At this time, the County of Santa Clara does not have a webpage to communicate with residents about the Housing Element process in the unincorporated County.

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Unincorporated Santa Clara County.

Saratoga

Find updates, materials, and resources at Saratoga’s Housing Elements Webpage, and sign up for their Housing Element Newsletter to get an email when meeting locations and participation details are available. Join the City of Saratoga’s Planning Commission for a series of community meetings where you can share your input on the Housing Element Update. The Planning Commission is seeking ideas for possible opportunity sites and housing policies to consider before they make a recommendation to the City Council.

  • You can also review and share your feedback on the Planning Commission’s recommended policies and programs (PDF) to be included in the Housing Element. 

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Saratoga.

 

Sunnyvale

Find updates, materials, and resources at Sunnyvale’s Housing Elements Webpage. You can register to receive updates from the city by clicking “Subscribe to stay informed.”

  • View the Draft Housing Element
  • Planning Commission: Public Draft Hearing – Monday, May 23, 7 p.m.  Join on Zoom and enter meeting ID or Call-in: 833-548-0276  Meeting ID: 918 2739 0357
  • Housing and Human Services Commission: Public Draft Hearing – Wednesday, May 25, 7 p.m.  Join on Zoom and enter meeting ID or Call-in: 833-548-0276  Meeting ID: 928 6794 9471
  • City Council: Public Draft Hearing – Tuesday, June 21, 7 p.m. Join on Zoom and enter meeting ID or Call-in: 833-548-0276  Meeting ID: 961 1158-0540

For more information about the project visit Housing Element Update or contact Ryan Dyson

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). Here is the data packet for Sunnyvale.

Housing Element Policies

Policies to consider in your advocacy

One request we’ve heard from you is for a list of suggested policies you can advocate to be included in your city’s Housing Element. As part of HCD’s guidance memo on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, they have released a list of Examples of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Actions. This is a great place to start for policy priorities for you or your organization! Suggested policies center on:

  • Housing Mobility Strategies: removing barriers to housing in areas of opportunity and  strategically enhancing access
  • New Housing Choices and Affordability in Areas of Opportunity: promoting housing supply, choices and affordability in areas of high opportunity, outside areas of concentrated poverty
  • Place-based Strategies to Encourage Community Conservation and Revitalization: conserving and improving assets in areas of lower opportunity and concentrated poverty such as targeted investment in neighborhood revitalization, preserving or rehabilitating existing affordable housing, improving infrastructure, schools, employment, parks, transportation and other community amenities
  • Protecting Existing Residents from Displacement: protecting residents in  areas of lower or moderate opportunity and concentrated poverty and preserving housing choices and affordability

Affordable housing production faces many challenges, including higher costs of development and shortages of funding for state and federal affordable housing programs. As part of the housing element, cities are required to identify barriers to production, both governmental (such as lengthy approval processes and large fees) and nongovernmental (such as opposition from existing residents), and find ways to help overcome them. While many cities have little money earmarked to directly support affordable housing, there are actions they can take and policies they can put in place that reduce costs for developers of affordable housing. Our partners at MidPen Housing have developed a fantastic set of best practices aimed at increasing production, with case studies as examples from previous planning cycles. Not only are these great policies, but the case studies can help you and your city understand the potential unlocked by including these policies in the Housing Element!

Housing Element Laws

New Laws Impacting Housing Elements

This time around, there have been changes in the process and housing law that will make this a lot more challenging for city staff than it has been in the past. Staff, consultants, and council will need more support. In addition to much bigger housing targets:

  • Staff will have to plan for units and affordability. They’ll have to identify which sites in the site inventory will hold their low-income housing units, and show that development and site capacity is feasible
  • The No Net Loss law means that Staff will have to overplan. If any site is developed with fewer units or higher affordability than it was planned for, there has to always be enough planned capacity to hold whatever is left of the RHNA
  • They have to affirmatively further fair housing, and show that lower-income sites are located equitably in the city. 
  • HCD can now monitor, enforce, and  de-certify cities’ housing elements mid-cycle, and if that happens, anything with at least 20% affordability becomes by-right

Staff and councils will need to have a clear-eyed view of their challenges and obligations, and they’re likely to face a lot of opposition from residents. Housing advocates will need to be involved at every step of the process with staff, consultants, and council to make sure we have good, compliant Housing Elements with as strong a chance as possible for success. Learn more about New Laws Impacting the Housing Element.

Understanding Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

New to this planning cycle, local jurisdictions must demonstrate that they are using their Housing Element to combat discrimination, overcome existing patterns of segregation, and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics such as race and ethnicity. HCD has recently released comprehensive guidance on how cities must incorporate the law, known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), into their Housing Element. 

Using fair housing metrics to allocate the Bay Area’s total housing need will help advance the AFFH mandate and create housing opportunities in resource-rich communities, many of which have a legacy of exclusion that must be overcome. Promoting greater housing opportunities in these neighborhoods helps advance regional priorities such as economic mobility, public health, and improved educational outcomes. This metric should be used to choose sites for all income levels, not just the low-income share of housing need, to ensure that more housing of all types is built where it is needed most. In this way, allocation based on access to high opportunity areas can also advance the requirement to increase housing supply & mix of housing types across all jurisdictions in an equitable way.

An easy way for advocates to check to see if housing of all income levels is distributed equitable throughout the community is to find sites in the Housing Element Site Inventory on the State’s Opportunity Maps. Planning lower-income homes for high-resource areas also helps them qualify for important access to LIHTC financing. 

Housing Element Sites Inventories

What makes a site unrealistic? AKA “Ground Truthing for Busy People”

Sometimes cities choose sites to accommodate their RHNA that are unlikely to be developed- sometimes unlikely for very obvious reasons! Whether the bad sites are chosen in honest error or ill intent, they will not lead to the construction of housing and are not in compliance with the law. Once your city begins to choose sites for the inventory, you can easily use Google Maps and Street View to see what’s happening at these sites- and often catch errors. Check out the sites a housing advocate found in San Diego’s Housing Element site inventory, as well as an explanation of why each site is unlikely to be developed! If you need to search for a site address by Assessor Parcel Number (APN), you can use the search function in this map from the Santa Clara County’s Department of Planning and Development– just choose APN from the dropdown menu in the search box at the top right corner.

Deep Dive: An Explainer & Audit Tool for the Housing Element (YIMBY)

This Explainer – which we call the “HEAT Sheet” – outlines several key topics of housing elements which carry legal weight and are top priority for housing advocates. Housing elements are both analytical and programmatic documents. The analytical side is supposed to reveal problems with the city’s housing stock and housing policies. The programmatic side is supposed to commit the city to fixing those problems in specific ways. A housing element must show how the city will accommodate its share of regional housing need allocation (“RHNA”) in each of four income categories: housing for very low-income, low-income, moderate-income, and above moderate-income households. A housing element must also affirmatively further fair housing, opening up neighborhoods from which lower-income and minority households have historically been excluded. Last, a housing element must mitigate or remove constraints to the development of housing at all levels of affordability.

Ready for a deep dive? Our friends at the Campaign for Fair Housing Elements have curated an incredible Resource Library with explainers, legislation memos, data, and more!

You can also register with them to receive updates on Housing Element actions happening in your city!

How To: Housing Element Resources

Talking about the Housing Element

Housing Elements can be a complicated, intimidating process but with the right messaging, we can help break down barriers and motivate residents and advocates to get involved and shape better policy. Join NPH with M+R Communications for a presentation that will lay out an approach for what to say and how to say it to bring people in, communicate the essentials, and get them engaged in the process. View the recorded training and slide deck here!

How to Give Public Comments for Fair Housing Elements (YIMBY)

New to giving public comment in support of housing at meetings? This helpful guide from CA YIMBY gives you specific examples on what to say by topic, including housing for racial equity, housing for economic opportunity, and housing for sustainable communities. This is a great way to get engaged quickly!

Advocacy Letter Templates

Don’t have time to write a letter? Start with one of these template letters and just fill in a few blanks! (Open the link, the click File> Download, or simply copy and paste into your own document to edit.)

“Diligent and Equitable Outreach to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing” letter template

“Fair and Equitable Housing Elements” letter template (Campaign for Fair Housing Elements)

“Housing Element Priorities” letter template

“Disability-Inclusive Housing” letter template (Campaign for Fair Housing Elements)

More letter templates to come!

Housing Needs Analysis by Jurisdiction

State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH), and additional AFFH data products will be released in summer 2021. You can also find concise summaries of some key local housing data for each jurisdiction in Santa Clara County on SV@Home’s City Pages.

Coming Soon!

Additional letter templates

Training materials and workshops:
Responding to NIMBY Talking Points
Greatest Hits: Key Solutions
Understanding Realistic Site Capacity