Sunnyvale’s Demographics

Population: 154,252
Households: 57,240
Housing Units: 60,273
Source: California Department of Finance, Table E-5

Employed Residents: 88,149
Source: ACS 2019 5 year estimates

In 2020, 30.7% of Sunnyvale’s population was White while 1.5% was African American, 46.8% was Asian, and 16.5% was Latinx. People of color in Sunnyvale 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: 10.1%
Rate of housing unit addition, 2010 to 2020: 8.0%
Source: California Department of Finance, Table E-5

Over the same period, Sunnyvale grew more quickly than Santa Clara County, which had a 9.2% population increase, or the nine-county Bay Area region, which had a 8.6% population increase.

The number of new homes built in Sunnyvale and 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 Sunnyvale

It is important to have a variety of housing types to meet the needs of a community today and in the future. In 2020, 36.1% of homes in Sunnyvale were single family detached (generally the most expensive type of home), 9.8% were single family attached, 8.3% were small multifamily (2-4 units), and 39.5% were medium or large multifamily (5+ units). Between 2010 and 2020, the number of multifamily units increased more than single-family units. In Sunnyvale, the share of the housing stock that is detached single family homes is lower than the average of other jurisdictions in the region.
Source: California Department of Finance, Table E-5

Jobs & Housing in Sunnyvale

Jobs: 105,924
Employed Residents per Household:  1.54
Jobs per Employed Resident: 1.2
Jobs-Housing Balance Ratio: 1.76
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.

Jobs-Housing Fit: 5.54 low wage jobs per low-cost rental unit
Source: Jobs from LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics 2019; households from U.S. Census, American Community Survey B25056, B25061

Note: Jobs-Housing Fit measures the mismatch between wages and housing affordability as the ratio of low-wage jobs (less than $3,333/month) to the number of low-cost rental units (less than $1,500/month). In Sunnyvale, there are more than 5 low-wage workers competing for each affordable home.

Renting in Sunnyvale

Percent of population that rents: 54.6%
Source: ACS 2019 5 year estimates

Median Monthly Rent (1 bedroom apartment): $2,625
Rent Change Year over Year: +33%
Source: Zumper, February 2022

Cost Burden in Sunnyvale

Cost-Burdened (30% – 50% income spent on housing)
Renter Households: 18.5% of renter households (5,662)
Homeowner Households: 24.3% of homeowner households (6,178)

Severely Cost-Burdened (more than 50% of income spent on housing)
Renter Households: 15.5% of renter households (4,748)
Homeowner Households: 8.7% of homeowner households (2,220)
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.

Homelessness in Sunnyvale

2022 Unhoused people: 385 people, including 279 unsheltered and 106 sheltered (-38% from 2019)

2019 Unhoused people: 624 people, including 477 unsheltered and 147 sheltered (+147% from 2017)
Source: 2019 and 2022 Homeless Point In Time Count

Overcrowding in Sunnyvale

Total Rental Homes: 30,642
Overcrowded Homes: 2,349
Severely Overcrowded Homes: 366
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. 

2014-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation 

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. The table below shows Sunnyvale’s progress.

Sunnyvale’s 2015-2022 RHNA Permit Progress as of 12/2022
Affordability LevelRHNA TargetPermits IssuedProgress to Target
Very Low Income164025515.5%
Low Income90612013.2%
Moderate Income93243947.1%
Above Moderate Income19744638235.0%

Permitting progress as of December 2022. Source: HCD 2022 Housing Element Implementation and APR Data Dashboard.

2023-2031 RHNA Allocation

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.

Sunnyvale’s 2023-2031 RHNA by Income Level
Very Low Income Low IncomeModerate IncomeAbove Moderate IncomeTotal Allocation

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

Current Affordable Housing Stock

Sunnyvale’s 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.

Jobs & Housing in the Development Pipeline

As of January 2022, Sunnyvale has 7.99 jobs in the development pipeline for every 1 housing unit in the development pipeline.

Sunnyvale Development Pipeline as of January 2022
Applications SubmittedApplications ApprovedUnder ConstructionTotal
Anticipated New Jobs2,42728,0314,15234,610
New Housing Units6252,2971,4124,334

Pipeline as of January 2022. Information reported from City of Sunnyvale.  The employment projections are derived by applying square-footage-per-employee factors to building floor areas by four building types: 250 square feet for office/R&D; 1,500 feet for hotels; 550 feet for retail/restaurant; and 2,500 feet for manufacturing/warehouse. All are figures applied to a building’s gross square footage.

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.

Sunnyvale ADUs Permitted: 2017 – 2021

Source: HCD 2022 Housing Element Implementation and APR Data Dashboard.

Affordable Housing Policies

Housing Element Policies

The Housing Element of Sunnyvale’s General Plan includes a number of policies and programs to encourage affordable housing development, including:

  • A Below Market Rate (BMR) inclusionary program requires that 15% of all new for-sale developments be affordable, though there is an in-lieu fee option available to developers.
  • Density bonuses are available for affordable housing projects.
  • Several provisions in its Zoning Code to lower the cost of development, including: enabling mixed-use neighborhoods; allowing conversion of industrial lands to residential use; and reduced parking requirements for affordable housing projects.
Housing Strategy

In 2017, the Sunnyvale City Council identified the Housing Strategy as a Study Issue. This project reviewed the current housing context and identify potential improvements to existing programs as well as new approaches to addressing housing affordability and availability in Sunnyvale. It was adopted by the City Council on October 13, 2020. Of the thirteen approved strategies, the City Council identified five to begin in FY2020/21:

Additional priorities scheduled for later tiers include:

  • Promoting new Age-Friendly housing
  • Strategies to increase the affordable housing supply, such as a land acquisition financing program for non-profit developers and reinstating an updated rental inclusionary ordinance consistent with AB 1505
  • Strategies to help with the demand for affordable housing, such as homebuyer, tenant, and financial literacy education programs

SV@Home is actively engaged in conversations on Sunnyvale’s Housing Strategy. We believe it is important to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing such as mobilehome parks and produce affordable housing through mechanisms such as inclusionary housing ordinances.

Inclusionary Housing and Affordable Housing Impact Fees

Sunnyvale has updated its inclusionary housing policy that requires for-sale residential developments with 7 or more units to include 15% percent of the total units be affordable to moderate income households (up to 110% AMI), or pay an in-lieu fee. The total amount of the in-lieu fee equals 7% of the contract sales price or appraised market value,
whichever is higher, of all market-rate units in the project. The ordinance is updated to align with state density bonus regulations and will have various alternative compliance options to allow developers to request certain ways to meet the city’s requirement at the discretion of council and will take effect in August 2021.

Sunnyvale also charges affordable housing impact fees on new residential rental development and Commercial Linkage Fees on non-residential development. The fees are reflected in the City of Sunnyvale FY 2021-2022 Fee Schedule.

Rental Residential Development: Sunnyvale Municipal Code Chapter 19.75, Section 19.75.040

  • 4-7 units: $10.50/sf
  • 8+ units: $20.50/sf

Non-Residential Development: Sunnyvale Municipal Code Chapter 19.75, Section 19.75.030

  • Office, R&D, Industrial: $9.30/sf for first 25,000 sf; $18.50/sf for remaining square footage
  • Retail, Hotel: $9.30/sf

Additional Resources