Santa Clara County’s Demographics

Population: 1,945,166
Households: 642,537
Housing Units: 674,558
Source: California Department of Finance, Table E-5

Employed Residents: 1,044,507
Source: ACS 2019 5 year estimates

In 2020, 32.2% of Santa Clara County’s population was White while 2.3% was African American, 39.6% was Asian, and 25.2% was Latinx. People of color in Santa Clara County comprise a proportion above the overall proportion in the Bay Area as a whole.
Source: 2020 Decennial Census

Rate of population growth, 2010 to 2020: 9.18%
Rate of housing unit addition, 2010 to 2020: 6.75%
Source: California Department of Finance, Table E-5

Santa Clara County grew more quickly than the nine-county Bay Area region, which had a 8.6% population increase.

The number of new homes built in Santa Clara County has not kept pace with demand, resulting in longer commutes, increasing prices, and exacerbating issues of displacement and homelessness.

 

Housing Types in Santa Clara County

It is important to have a variety of housing types to meet the needs of a community today and in the future. In 2020, 52.1% of homes in Santa Clara County were single family detached (generally the most expensive type of home), 9.7% were single family attached, 7.3% were small multifamily (2-4 units), and 28.1% were medium or large multifamily (5+ units). Between 2010 and 2020, the number of multi-family units increased more than single-family units. In Santa Clara County, the share of the housing stock that is detached single family homes is higher than the average of other jurisdictions in the region.
Source: California Department of Finance, Table E-5


Jobs & Housing in Santa Clara County

Jobs: 1,115,725
Employed Residents per Household:  1.63
Jobs per Employed Resident: 1.07
Jobs-Housing Balance Ratio: 1.65
Source: ACS 2019 5 year estimates

Note: Jobs-Housing Balance is a measurement used by planners that assumes that a balanced community is one where people can both live and work. This ratio compares the number of jobs in a community to the number of housing units.


Renting in Santa Clara County

Percent of population that rents: 43.6%
Source: ACS 2019 5 year estimates

Homelessness in Santa Clara County

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

Cost Burden in Santa Clara County

Cost-Burdened (30% – 50% income spent on housing)
Renter Households: 23.0% of renter households (64,151)
Homeowner Households: 27.9% of homeowner households (100,793)

Severely Cost-Burdened (more than 50% of income spent on housing)
Renter Households: 21.6% of renter households (60,222)
Homeowner Households: 11.4% of homeowner households (40,983)
Source: ACS 2019 5 year estimates

Note: Current standards measure housing cost in relation to gross household income: households spending more than 30 percent of their income, including utilities, are generally considered to be overpaying or “cost burdened.” Severe cost burden occurs when households pay 50 percent or more of their gross income for housing. The impact of high housing costs falls disproportionately on extremely low-, very low-, and low-income households, especially renters. While some higher-income households may choose to spend greater portions of their income for housing, the cost burden for lower-income households reflects choices limited by a lack of a sufficient supply of housing affordable to these households.


Overcrowding in Santa Clara County

Total Rental Homes: 279,110
Overcrowded Homes: 24,247
Severely Overcrowded Homes: 15,778
Percent of Rental Homes, Overcrowded: 5.7%
Source: ACS 2019 5 year estimates

  • The U.S. Census defines an overcrowded unit as one occupied by 1.01 persons or more per room (excluding bathrooms and kitchens). Units with more than 1.5 persons per room are considered severely overcrowded.

Note: Overcrowding increases health and safety concerns and stresses the condition of the housing stock and infrastructure. Overcrowding is strongly related to household size (particularly for large and very-large households) and the availability of suitably sized housing. Overcrowding impacts both owners and renters; however, renters are generally more significantly impacted. 


2104-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation for All Jurisdictions Countywide

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. 

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

Each city and town within the county has its own Regional Housing Needs Allocation. You can view the progress of your local jurisdiction on our Cities & Public Agencies pages, or view a table that compares the RHNA progress of all the Santa Clara County jurisdictions. You can also view a series of graphs that compares cities’ RHNA progress by income level. 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%
Total58,8364518877%

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

2014-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation for Unincorporated County Land

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)

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

Unincorporated Santa Clara County’s 2015-2022 RHNA Permit Progress as of 12/2021
Affordability LevelRHNA TargetPermits IssuedProgress to Target
Very Low Income2299445%
Low Income1300%
Moderate Income 21425971214%
Above Moderate Income284641261%
Total27731601140.8%

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

2023-2031 RHNA Allocation for Unincorporated County Land

In January of 2023, about a year after local jurisdictions are given their final RHNA numbers, the local planning process will culminate in the Housing Element. This is a pivotal document that serves as a Constitution for land use planning and accounts for how and where the jurisdiction will accommodate allocated housing units. It must identify adequate sites for the full RHNA and all types of housing, including emergency shelters, rental housing, and ownership housing, and commit to policies and programs aimed at removing barriers to housing production, addressing racial and economic segregation and disparities in access to resources, providing for the unique housing needs of residents in protected categories, and protecting residents vulnerable to displacement.

Unincorporated Santa Clara County’s 2023-2031 RHNA by Income Level
Very Low Income Low IncomeModerate IncomeAbove Moderate IncomeTotal Allocation
8284775081,3123,125

Source: ABAG Approved Final RHNA Plan: San Francisco Bay Area, 2023-2031 (Dec 2021)


Current Affordable Housing Stock in Unincorporated Santa Clara County

Unincorporated Santa Clara County 2020 Affordable Housing Inventory
Extremely Low-IncomeVery Low-IncomeLow-IncomeModerate IncomeTotal UnitsAffordable % of Total Housing Stock
4465542,8503,85013.8%

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.

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
2017201820192020Total
17293242120

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 Ordinance

On October 6, 2020, the County Board of Supervisors approved an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance for unincorporated land within the county’s borders which applies to all residential development of three or more units:

Rental Residential Development. 16% of the total units must be available for rent at an affordable housing cost to lower, very low, or extremely low income households earning no more than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

For Sale Residential Development. 16% of the total units must be available for purchase at an affordable housing cost to lower, very low, or extremely low income households earning no more than 120% of AMI.

Any fraction above a whole number of units can be paid as an in lieu fee or rounded up to include the provision of an additional inclusionary unit. Specific guidelines apply to residential development within the Stanford Community Plan Area.

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

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