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The Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) process is the part of Housing Element Law used to determine how many new homes, and the affordability of those homes, each local government must plan for in its Housing Element.
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Let's Talk Housing is a collaborative effort of all the jurisdictions in San Mateo County focused on getting community feedback that will shape our Housing Elements - a housing plan that is part of every General Plan. Through an ongoing initiative called 21 Elements, we are working together to learn from and listen to the community about their housing needs, helping to make sure everyone is involved in shaping our shared future.
Local housing is enshrined in state law as a matter of "vital statewide importance" and, since 1969, the State of California has required that all local governments (cities, towns and counties, also known as local jurisdictions) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in our communities.
To meet this requirement, each city or county must develop a Housing Element as part of its General Plan (the local government's long-range blueprint for growth) that shows how it will meet its community's housing needs. This process is repeated every eight years, and for this cycle the Bay Area is planning for the period from 2023 to 2031. This Housing Element update will create a foundation for all the policies and programs related to housing. Each jurisdiction's housing plan needs to help ensure that there will be enough capacity and supportive policies to meet the projected need over the next 10 years. There are many laws that govern this process, and collectively they are known as Housing Element Law.By April 1st of each year, all local jurisdictions in California are required to prepare and submit an Annual Progress Report (APR) on the status and progress in implementing its Housing Element. Cities and counties with a compliant housing element and up-to-date submissions of APRs remain eligible for state grants and funding related to planning and housing. The APR evaluates the status of the implementation programs and housing production for the previous calendar year.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) develops a state-wide housing needs determination (RHND) number, based on projected housing needs in various income categories as outlined in the table below:
Regional Housing Needs Determination from HCD for the San Francisco Bay Area:
HCD further breaks the RHND into regional assignments, and then allocates a lump number of units to each area’s regional coalition of governments (COG). The Bay Area’s COG is the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).
This number is then assigned by the COG to the various jurisdictions within the region. This known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA; pronounced ree-nuh) process. The State is currently in the sixth cycle of this allocation process, known as "RHNA 6."
In 2019 ABAG established a Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) charged with developing a distribution formula by which to allocate the cycle 6 RHND number. The HMC consists of elected officials and staff from each county, as well as stakeholders from interest groups.Any methodology developed by the HMC must satisfy the many statutory requirements for RHNA distribution, including:
Using the above requirements as a guide, the final RHNA methodology recommended by the HMC assigns a total number of housing units to each Bay Area jurisdiction and distributes that allocation among the four affordability levels.
The RHNA process is currently underway and will be complete by the end of 2021. Local governments will then have until January 2023 to update their Housing Elements. The proposed timing for the key milestones in the RHNA process is shown below:
For current housing element issues and more details on our RHNA numbers, please visit our Housing page. In addition, more information can be found at the Let's Talk Housing website.