Population: 1,911,226
Households: 630,451
Employed Residents: 967,294
Housing Units: 630,451

Jobs: 1,041,192
Employed Residents per Household: 1.57
Jobs per Employed Resident: 1.07
Jobs-Housing Balance Ratio: 1.61
Source: ACS 2017 5 year estimates

Low-Wage Jobs-Housing Fit Ratio: 5.48
Source: 2015 LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics. For more information about the jobs/housing calculations visit our jobs and housing page.

2019 Homeless Count: 9,706 individuals, including 7,958 unsheltered and 1,748 sheltered (+31% from 2017)
Source: 2019 Homeless Point In Time Count

Unincorporated Santa Clara County 2020 Affordable Housing Inventory
Extremely Low-IncomeVery Low-IncomeLow-IncomeModerate IncomeTotal UnitsAffordable % of Total Housing Stock

SOURCE: Units reported in the Housing Element Annual Performance Report that received building permits in 2019 were added to the unit counts in the previously reported 2018 Base Year table.  This methodology necessarily means that any ELI units, if any, are included in the VLI category since that is how HCD has required production data to be reported.  The RHNA data on new units relies on self-reporting by jurisdiction and can include units for which building permits were issued that never got built.  The percentage of the total housing stock in the community is based the California Department of Finance’s Table E-5. See more information on our affordable housing assets page.

2014-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation  for Unincorporated County Land

Every 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 units of housing 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, regardless of income, in an effort to plan for future growth and ease the Bay Area’s acute housing crisis. 

In addition to the Regional Housing Needs Allocation for each individual jurisdiction within the County, Santa Clara County also has its own Regional Housing Needs Allocation for unincorporated land within the County’s boundaries. This covers a population of 88,369. (Source: California Department of Finance 2019 Table E-5 City/County Population and Housing Estimates)

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. The table below shows the progress for Unincorporated Santa Clara County.

Unincorporated Santa Clara County’s 2015-2022 RHNA Permit Progress as of 12/2020
Affordability LevelRHNA TargetPermits IssuedProgress to Target
Very Low Income2298445%
Low Income1300%
Moderate Income 21425971214%
Above Moderate Income283531261%

Permitting progress as of December 2020. Source: HCD 2020 Housing Element Annual Progress Report Permit Summary.

2104-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation for All Jurisdictions Countywide

Each city and town within the county has its own Regional Housing Needs Allocation. This  table shows the performance of all jurisdictions in the County, aggregated together.

All Jurisdictions Countywide (Aggregate) 2015-2022 RHNA Permit Progress as of 12/2020
Affordability LevelRHNA TargetPermits IssuedProgress to Target
Very Low Income16,1582,75317%
Low Income9,5421,67818%
Moderate Income10,6366,19358%
Above Moderate Income22,50034,564154%

Permitting progress as of December 2020. Source: HCD 2020 Housing Element Annual Progress Report Permit Summary.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

All California cities and counties are mandated to permit ADUs and JADUs according to state law. The Legislature further updated ADU and JADU law effective January 1, 2021 to clarify and improve various provisions in order to promote the development of ADUs and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). These include allowing ADUs and JADUs to be built concurrently with a single-family dwelling, opening areas where ADUs can be created to include all zoning districts that allow single-family and multifamily uses, modifying fees from utilities such as special districts and water corporations, limited exemptions or reductions in impact fees, and reduced parking requirements. Please see the Accessory Dwelling Unit Handbook (PDF) for more information for local government bodies and homeowners interested in adding an ADU or JADU to their property. Our partner, the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley has kicked-off a major initiative, Small Homes, Big Impact to support ADU development throughout Santa Clara County, including outreach and education, and potential new financing mechanisms.

Unincorporated Santa Clara County ADUs Permitted: 2017 – 2020

Affordable Housing Policies

Housing Element Policies

The Housing Element of the County’s General Plan includes several policies to encourage affordable housing development, including:

  • Planning for the supply and diversity of housing in each part of the urbanized areas county shall provide for existing and expected employment and household needs and a diversity of affordability that matches the diversity of household incomes, while respecting the capacity of constructed or planned public systems and services.
  • Prioritization of the County’s housing assistance resources on affordable housing for special needs populations and extremely low income households (earning below 30% AMI), as well as transitional and permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals.
  • Encouragement of intergovernmental and public and private cooperation to achieve an adequate supply of affordable housing that meets changing demographic needs in Santa Clara County.
  • Consideration of using suitably located surplus publicly-owned lands for housing affordable to extremely low, very low, and low income households through the sale or lease of such land to a government entity, or to nonprofit or private home builders with appropriate terms and conditions guaranteeing long term affordability.
Inclusionary Housing and Affordable Housing Impact Fees

The County is developing conditions of approval for Stanford University General Use Permit(GUP). Much of Stanford falls within county unincorporated land. Currently under negotiation are Inclusionary Housing requirements for new residential development, as well as the level of Impact Fees that Stanford will be required to pay for any office development the University plans to build in the coming years. Learn more about the Stanford General Use Permit.

Measure A

On November 8, 2016, 67.88% of Santa Clara County voters approved a landmark funding measure for affordable housing, making $950 million available for the acquisition or improvement of housing for vulnerable populations.  In 2017, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved funding for the first six developments, each of which includes supportive housing units dedicated to households exiting homelessness.  Learn more about Measure A.

Publicly Owned Land

The County has a few initiatives underway that will open up under-utilized County owned land for affordable housing development. Most notably, in a joint planning effort with the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County, the County has drafted the East Santa Clara Master Plan with plans to develop 800 housing units affordable to a variety of income levels within downtown San Jose. The Board of Supervisors has also requested a housing plan be developed for the Civic Center Master Plan Area, with the goal of creating a permanent supportive housing development in place of the recently demolished San Jose City Hall Annex. Lastly, the County began a 20 year process to close the Reid-Hillview Airport in East San Jose, which will unlock additional land for future housing development.

Additional Resources

Photo: Parkside Studios, Charities Housing