2023 General Plan & Housing Element Update

Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) & Housing Element Update

What is it?

Under California law every jurisdiction in the State is required to update the Housing Element, or housing "chapter" of its General Plan every eight years to reflect their latest housing allocation or "RHNA" (pronounced "ree-nuh") numbers.  The 9-county Bay Area region of the state is slated to go through this process beginning in 2020, with updates due to HCD in the fall of 2022 for certification by January of 2023.

Where do RHNA numbers come from?

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) develops a state-wide housing needs determination (RHND) number, based on projected needs in various income categories.  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) process.  The State is currently in the sixth cycle of this allocation process, known as "RHNA 6".  

How does ABAG decide where to distribute the regional assignment ?

ABAG has 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:

  1. Increasing housing supply and mix of housing types, tenure, and affordability in all cities and counties in an equitable manner throughout the region;
  2. Promoting infill development and socioeconomic equity, protecting environmental and agricultural resources, encouraging efficient development patterns, and achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions targets;
  3. Promoting an improved intraregional jobs-housing relationship, including a balance between low-wage jobs and affordable housing (jobs/housing fit);
  4. Balancing disproportionate household income distributions (more high-income RHNA to lower-income areas and vice-versa); and,
  5. Affirmatively further fair housing.

Using the above requirements as a guide, the final RHNA methodology recommended by HMC will assign a total number of housing units to each Bay Area jurisdiction and distribute that allocation among the following four affordability levels:

  • Very Low Income (50% Area Median Income)
  • Low Income (60% Area Median Income)
  • Moderate Income (80% Area Median Income)
  • Above Moderate Income (120% Area Median Income)

What does this mean for the Town ?

Once the RHNA 6 targets are assigned by ABAG, each local government must update their Housing Element to reflect the cycle 6 numbers. This update must identify the locations where the RHNA 6 housing allocations might be developed, and the supporting policies and strategies that the jurisdiction has developed to ensure achievement of their RHNA target within the current cycle.

The Building and Planning Department will be the lead on this effort for the Town and anticipates initiating this process beginning in early 2021.

How do I get involved in the update process?

The Town anticipates beginning community discussions on the Housing Element and General Plan Update in spring/summer 2021.  Updates will be provided on this page, and notice of town meetings will be posted on Town bulletin boards, on the online Town calendar, and sent out in the Town's e-announcements and newsletter. 

For questions, or to add your name to the Town's interested parties list, please reach out to:

Liz Ruess 

Planning Manager

lruess@hillsborough.net | (650) 375.7419 direct