Population: 67,082
Households: 26,238
Employed Residents: 32,549
Housing Units: 27,577

Jobs: 97,579
Employed Residents per Household: 1.24
Jobs per Employed Resident: 3.00
Jobs-Housing Balance Ratio: 3.54
Source: ACS 2017 5 year estimates

Low-Wage Jobs-Housing Fit Ratio: 6.66
Source: 2015 LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics

For more information about the jobs/housing calculations visit our jobs and housing page.

2019 Homeless Count: 313 persons, including 299 unsheltered and 14 sheltered (+13% from 2017)
Source: 2019 Homeless Point In Time Count

Average Monthly Rent: $3,163
Rent Increase Year over Year: 4%
Source: Rent Cafe, June 2019

Palo Alto Affordable Housing Inventory

ELIVLILIModTotalPercentage of Housing Stock*
1461,0296128432,6309.0%

All cities have various methods of tracking their affordable housing stock, and it is challenging to maintain a comprehensive list of all affordable housing that has historically been available within the community. Our goal with this initial study was to begin the conversation, and hopefully improve the accuracy of our inventory as cities further develop their tracking methods. This initial look was focused solely on deed restricted affordable homes in Santa Clara Cities, and some cities also possess units that are not deed restricted, but are made affordable due through other mechanisms.
* SOURCE: California Department of Finance – “Table 2: E-5 City/County 
Inventory as of December 2018. Information reported from City of Palo Alto.

See more information on our affordable housing assets page.

2014-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation 

Palo Alto Permit Progress as of 2019

Affordability LevelRHNA GoalPermits as of 2019Percent Progress
Very Low Income691436%
Low Income4326014%
Moderate Income2784215%
Above Moderate58740970%
TOTAL1,98855428%

Permitting progress as of December 2019. Source: HCD 2019 Housing Element Annual Progress Report Permit Summary.

Affordable Housing Policies

Housing Element Policies

The Housing Element of Palo Alto’s Comprehensive Plan has several policies encouraging affordable housing, including:

  • An active Below Market Rate (BMR) (inclusionary) program for for-sale housing that provides affordable units (or payment of an in-lieu fee, as an alternative).
  • Extremely low-income (ELI) units are given a strong preference in the expenditure of City funds.
  • Zoning Code amendments to provide additional incentives to developers to include ELI units in their project, including reduced fees and landscaping requirements, and reduced parking requirements for smaller units.
  • For proposed affordable housing developments, City departments are required to expedite processing times and waive or reduce development fees.
  • Permanently affordable units are exempt from infrastructure impact fees.
  • A density bonus program to allow affordable housing developments to exceed standard limits.
  • A commercial impact (linkage) fee to generate funding for affordable housing finance.
Inclusionary Housing

The City of Palo Alto has an inclusionary housing policy that requires for-sale residential developments with three or more units to designate a percentage of total units for very low, low and moderate income households.  The percentage requirement differs based on the acreage of a project’s site:

  • Less than 5 acres: 15% percent of total units (with two-thirds of the affordable units set aside for households earning 80-100% AMI, and one-third for households earning 100-120% AMI)
  • 5 or more acres: 20% of total units (with four-fifths of the affordable units set aside for households earning 80-100% AMI, and one-fifth for households earning 100-120% AMI)
Affordable Housing Impact Fees

In April 2017, the City of Palo Alto adopted a new affordable housing impact fee policy that requires new rental housing developments to pay a $20 per square foot impact fee, which is used to fund the creation of affordable housing.

As part of the April 2017 update, the City also set the following fee levels for non-residential development:

  • Office/R&D/Medical: $35.00
  • Hotel: $20.37
  • Retail: $20.37
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Between 2016 and 2018, the City of Palo Alto permitted 51 ADUs, increasing their average from 5 to 17 ADUs per year.  In May 2017, the City amended its ADU ordinance to comply with SB 1069 and AB 2299 and to encourage the development of ADUs.

Additional Resources

 Photo: 801 Alma Family Apartments, Eden Housing

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