Housing Technical Assistance Program

Housing Technical Assistance Program

Regional Early Action Planning Grants

ABAG is currently developing a new regional housing technical assistance program with the support of new state funding disbursed by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The program’s goal is to assist local jurisdictions in adopting compliant Housing Elements, ensuring that Bay Area jurisdictions remain competitive for various state funding programs to increase housing opportunities. The process to develop the technical assistance began with a listening session at the ABAG Special General Assembly and has included input from local planning staff in all nine Bay Area counties on program design.

ABAG’s Executive Board has approved the following program framework for ABAG’s REAP funds to advance the three P’s of housing: Production, Preservation and Protection. These shape the program, providing:

  • Collaborative and cohort-focused approach
  • Regional consultant bench
  • Regional coordination with HCD
  • Regional and subregional housing leadership development & community engagement.

On July 16, 2020, the ABAG Executive Board selected Baird + Driskell Community Planning as the program’s Principal Consultant. These new technical assistance resources are expected to roll out later in 2020 to Bay Area cities, towns and counties.

The funds come from the 2019-2020 Budget Act, which provided a one-time allocation of $250 million to regions and local jurisdictions to implement the sixth cycle of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) and otherwise accelerate housing production.  The funding is divided between two programs: the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grants program, and the Local Early Action Planning (LEAP) grants program. 

As the Bay Area’s Council of Governments, ABAG is eligible to receive funding through the REAP program on a population-based formula – totaling roughly $23.9 million. 

Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program

ABAG’s Regional Housing TA Program is designed to complement nearly $50M in planning grants provided by the State directly to Bay Area governments through SB 2 Planning Grants and Local Early Action Planning (LEAP) Grants to support efforts that prepare, adopt and implement plans and process improvements that streamline housing approvals, accelerate housing production and facilitate compliance to implement the sixth-cycle RHNA.

Help Shape the Work Program

There are a few important opportunities for you to learn more and shape the work program:

  1. Fill out a survey: If you have not already done so, please take this survey by HCD and ABAG regarding TA program design for REAP, LEAP and SB2.
  2. Get more information:  You can sign-up for the interested parties list on this page to get additional program information.
  3. Review the materials from the Planning Innovations webinar: ABAG, in partnership with HCD, hosted a webinar to discuss state data requirements for local Housing Elements, solicit input on regional data tools and train local planners to use a site selection tool to analyze parcel-level data and pre-populate HCD’s new site inventory form.

Collaboratives, Peer-Cohorts & Workgroups

The Housing TA program focuses on facilitating cross-jurisdiction collaboration, achieving economies of scale and reducing the administrative burden on local governments, allowing local resources to be focused on local priorities. The Housing TA Program will support peer learning, exchange, technical assistance, and regional coordination by creating three programmatic structures, as follows:

  • Collaboratives – (Mostly) county-based groups staffed by paid coordinators that facilitate ongoing dialogue, learning and technical assistance to jurisdictions within a shared geography during the Housing Element update process and address other housing-related topics. These groups will meet regularly, perhaps monthly, and have the potential to continue past the expected two years of RHNA 6 updates. 
  • Peer Cohorts – Learning communities of similar jurisdictions that meet occasionally (e.g. quarterly) to discuss housing topics of shared concern. These could include large cities, under-resourced jurisdictions, or rural communities.
  • Topic-specific Workgroups – Short-term, "deep dive" sessions for jurisdictions working on specific housing issues or adopting similar legislation. This could include understanding new ADU laws and drafting local ordinance updates; or jurisdictions interested in advancing equity in their housing elements.

ABAG is actively seeking input on how to structure these groups to be of most value to local planners. Please email HousingTA@bayareametro.gov with your comments or suggestions.

Regional Products

To avoid duplication of effort, the Housing TA Program will include regionally applicable products that can be tailored by local staff to meet their needs. These products will include staff report templates, FAQs and slide decks on common topics like changes to housing element laws, including new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) requirements. We will also provide technical assistance for innovative and effective community engagement to increase participation during COVID and beyond.

Local Housing Needs Data

Staff will produce jurisdiction-level housing needs data packets for each Bay Area jurisdiction including charts and graphs that local staff can add directly into their housing elements. These local data packets will include data relevant to the implementation of new state laws regarding Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, and key statistics will be summarized by race. The data packets will meet the minimum standards per state law. These packets are expected to be available in late October.

Site Selection Tool

Also in October, we will release an interactive online site selection tool that identifies potential sites in all local Bay Area jurisdictions for Housing Element site inventories and flags those that will likely require rezoning to be used under new state laws. This tool will screen sites based on HCD’s minimum requirements and will automatically populate sections of HCD’s new reporting form.

More detail on these local data tools can be found in the data tools materials.

HCD Safe Harbors & Predictability 

The data packets and the site selection tool will be pre-reviewed by HCD with the goal of establishing safe harbors if used by local jurisdictions in their Housing Elements. Staff will also work with HCD to negotiate approved methodologies on topics such as receiving RHNA credit for Accessory Dwelling Units and density assumptions for parcels with certain characteristics to increase predictability of acceptance by HCD. Additionally, ABAG will serve as a regional clearinghouse for questions raised by local planners as they prepare and implement Housing Elements and will broadly disseminate HCD’s answers to save local planners time and ensure consistent interpretations of state law.

Regional Consulting Bench

To facilitate access to consultant resources, achieve economies of scale and reduce costs, ABAG will establish and administer a robust regional consulting bench. This effort will recruit and vet multiple consultants with various skill sets to support local planning at favorable rates. ABAG will use the bench to support regional TA efforts, and local jurisdictions will be able to use it to connect with specialized resources on a wide range of issues and services. Please email HousingTA@bayareametro.gov with RFQ request in the subject line  to receive a copy of the RFQ or add a suggested consultant to the RFQ distribution list.

Local Funding Allocations

ABAG’s Executive Board has budgeted approximately $3M out of its initial $5.9M in REAP funding to support local jurisdictions, including RHNA Subregions and Planning Collaboratives. Staff will present initial recommendations regarding the allocation of these funds as an informational item at the October meeting of the ABAG Housing Committee.

At the November meeting of the ABAG Executive Board, staff will seek approval for additional regional programming and local allocations to be included in ABAG’s application to HCD for the remaining REAP funding (approximately $18M). It is anticipated that both non-competitive and competitive local allocations will be available and that applications will be streamlined.

Contact Heather Peters, hpeters@bayareametro.gov for more information about REAP.

Local Government Direct Assistance

The State's LEAP program is designed to help cities and counties directly by providing funding, incentives, and technical assistance to local governments through over-the-counter grants.  Every local jurisdiction is eligible to apply to HCD for direct LEAP funding per a population-based formula. LEAP applications are due by January 31, 2021; however, HCD strongly encourages jurisdictions to submit their applications as soon as possible.

Review the LEAP flyer and State Resources flyer for more information or visit HCD’s website (link is external) for more information about LEAP. Visit HCD’s website for more information about LEAP.

SB2 Grant Funding

The “Building Homes and Jobs Act” is the first permanent source of state funding dedicated to helping local governments increase housing production. ABAG members can apply for a grant on a range of activities related to streamlining and accelerating housing production. ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) assist in the development of ideas and coordinate partnerships to pool SB2 resources. Once you review and you’d like to apply for a grant, please contact us for more information (contact info below).

There are three key activities that local governments could pursue:

a. Housing Element Pre-work and Analysis: Recent legislation increased scrutiny of Housing Element sites and introduced limits on whether sites can be carried over from one RHNA cycle to the next to meet lower-income need.  With only seven percent of sites from the previous RHNA cycle available for reuse in the upcoming RHNA with no changes, local jurisdictions will need to identify new sites and/or re-zone previously used sites for by-right development at default densities to meet the needs identified in the upcoming RHNA cycle. Jurisdictions are encouraged to use SB2 funds to identify and re-zone sites to allow multi-family housing by-right and facilitate meeting future housing element requirements.

b. Implementation of ADU Calculator: A tailored ADU calculator is a good example of a low-cost, high-impact SB2 project if enough jurisdictions agree to pitch in and share the cost of developing the tool.  ABAG and MTC staff have experience deploying countywide ADU calculators and are ready to assist similar collaborative efforts.

c. Objective Design Standards: Cities have struggled to implement objective standards for new development standards; and design standards have been especially challenging. The ABAG/MTC staff is eager to help cities and counties develop form-based code design guidelines that can be shared with other jurisdictions--and customized to a particular neighborhood or housing type.

Contact Ada Chan, achan@bayareametro.gov for more information.  SB2 grant program is administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD. Get the details at the HCD website.(link is external).

HCD Announcement




Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing in Local Planning

Housing Element Law:

Fair Housing requirements for local governments

California is experiencing a housing supply crisis, with housing demand far outstripping supply. The supply solution is not just about how many units are built, but also where they are built and who has access to them. As California works to address the housing crisis, local housing planning must include strategies to remediate existing trends in segregation and increase access to opportunity for all community members.  

What are the fair housing requirements?

To address fair housing, AB 686 (Statutes of 2018) creates requirements for all state and local agencies (including, but not limited to, all cities, counties, cities and counties, and housing authorities) that ensure that their laws, programs and activities affirmatively further fair housing. 

HCD has released a summary of the requirements that AB 686 added to Housing Element Law that local governments and interested stakeholders can use to understand the changes. The memo provides a review of the added fair housing program requirement (which started January 1, 2019), the Assessment of Fair Housing, and the sites inventory analysis for all housing elements due on or after January 1, 2021.


Please email: ComplianceReview@hcd.ca.gov.

ABAG and HCD are partnering to implement a regional technical assistance program.

This interactive webinar introduced the program and explained some of the technical assistance tools being developed. You can view the powerpoint presentation and the webinar recording. The password for the recording is: m?YzX6*V

The webinar discussed the following technical assistance tools:

  • Housing Element land inventory samples and update requirements
  • ADU ordinances
  • Objective Design and Development Standards
  • CEQA Streamlining
  • Model ordinances
  • State Pro-housing Designations
  • ABAG’s upcoming online site selection tool.

If you have any questions about the webinar please email Sohab Mehmood at HCD: Sohab.Mehmood@hcd.ca.gov or Heather Peters at ABAG: hpeters@bayareametro.gov.

ABAG, in partnership with HCD, hosted a webinar to discuss state data requirements, solicit input on regional data tools and train local planners to use a site selection tool to analyze parcel-level data and pre-populate HCD’s new site inventory form.

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