California state law recognizes that local governments play a vital role in developing affordable housing. In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of our residents—regardless of income.
This state mandate is called the Housing Element and Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA. The Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) process is used to determine how many new homes, and the affordability of those homes, each local government must plan for in its Housing Element. This process is repeated every eight years, and this is the 6th cycle for the period from 2023 to 2031.
Working with the State Department of Finance, the CA Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) assigns future housing and population growth projections in eight-year cycles to every Council of Government (COG) in the State. The COG for the 9-County Bay Area is the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). ABAG, working with the Housing Methodology Committee (HMC), then distributes a share of the region's housing need to each city, town and county in the region. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its general plan to show the locations where housing can be built and the policies and strategies necessary to meet the community's housing needs at all income levels. The RHNA number includes a distribution of units to be provided across four income categories – very low income, low income, moderate income and above moderate income.
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