Regional Housing Update -- HCD Issues Need Determination

image includes two photos, one of a man wearing a hard hat sawing a wood on a roof under construction; the second part is an aerial shot of the San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area to Plan for Housing


RHNA is the state-mandated process to identify the number of housing units, by affordability level, that each jurisdiction must accommodate in the Housing Element of its General Plan (Government Code §65584). As part of this process, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) identifies the total housing need for the Bay Area for an eight-year period. As the Council of Governments (COG) for the Bay Area, ABAG is responsible for developing a methodology to allocate to each city and county a portion of the region’s total housing need received from HCD. The allocation must meet five statutory objectives (Government Code §65584(d)) and be consistent with the development pattern in Plan Bay Area 2050.

HCD Issues Need Determination

On June 9th, the State Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) issued the Bay Area a housing need of 441,176 units as part of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process for the years 2023 to 2031. The Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) is a finding made every eight years by HCD that identifies specific housing needs across California.

This number is approximately twice the determination that the Bay Area received in February of 2012 for the last RHNA cycle, and reflects changes to state law and growth over the past eight years.

The Bay Area has faced a well-documented chronic housing shortage spanning periods of both job growth and contraction. The upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has further illuminated the precarious state of housing security for many Bay Area residents.  Too many of our fellow residents worry about homelessness or displacement because they cannot afford their rent or mortgage due to loss of employment or reduction in income.

High housing costs disproportionally impact young people and, of course, those with limited incomes including a preponderance of Black and Brown people.  In this setting, ABAG and MTC’s leadership has issued a joint statement calling for racial, social, and economic justice and aiming to repair local governments’ historic role in denying opportunity.  Providing housing for all income levels is a key part of implementing that vision. 

The ABAG Executive Board discussed the RHND at its June 18th meeting.

RHNA Public Process

As in past RHNA cycles, ABAG has convened a Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) to advise and make recommendations on the RHNA methodology for allocating the RHND. The HMC began meeting in September 2019 and includes local elected officials and staff as well as regional stakeholders to facilitate sharing of diverse viewpoints across multiple sectors.

Some of the key topics discussed by the HMC to date include understanding the State’s new equity framework and identifying the factors to be included in the methodology for allocating a share of housing needs to every local government in the Bay Area. Over the next several months, the HMC will continue to refine the methodology factors while also discussing potential approaches for determining the distribution of units by income for each jurisdiction and considering the options on incorporating data from the Plan Bay Area 2050 Blueprint into the RHNA methodology.

More information about the HMC and its activities is available here. The page includes the roster, member biographies, and materials from HMC meetings.

RHNA Schedule

Due to the many challenges faced by Bay Area’s cities, towns, and counties, ABAG sent a letter to HCD requesting clarifications on the statewide RHNA schedule. Below are the current statutory deadlines for the Bay Area’s RHNA process from late 2020 to early 2023, with the latter date reflecting the deadline for updates to jurisdictions’ Housing Elements. We will share HCD’s response when it is received.

Key milestones for completing the RHNA process include:

  • HCD Regional Housing Needs Determination                        June 2020
  • Proposed RHNA methodology                                                Fall 2020
  • Draft RHNA methodology to HCD for review                          Winter 2021
  • Final RHNA methodology, release draft allocation                 Spring 2021
  • RHNA appeals                                                                        Summer 2021
  • Final RHNA allocation                                                             End of 2021
  • Local Communities Housing Elements due to HCD               January 2023

The schedule is subject to potential further modifications based on decisions made by the ABAG Executive Board or changing circumstances outside our control. A more detailed RHNA schedule is available on the ABAG website.

Assisting Local Governments with RHNA Compliance

Through ABAG, the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) Grants Program will bring approximately $23.9M to assist local governments to prepare, adopt, and implement plans and processes that accelerate housing production and facilitate compliance in implementing the sixth cycle of RHNA.  ABAG staff is currently developing a framework for the REAP Program, including a collaborative and cohort-based approach promoting knowledge sharing on policies, best practices, and site analysis.  The REAP program intends to achieve economies of scale via a regional pool of consultants, which will bring increased flexibility and reduced administrative burden for local jurisdictions.

Please contact Heather Peters, ABAG Project Manager for REAP, at with any questions.

Additionally, the Local Early Action Planning Grants (LEAP) can provide direct funding to local governments. The deadline to apply for LEAP funds is July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, HCD has confirmed that this deadline cannot be extended without legislative action because it is set in statute. The application requires a Board/Council resolution.

Expanded Regional Housing Portfolio

ABAG and MTC leadership has also been supporting efforts around AB 1487, or the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA).  This has included robust leadership from the ABAG Board and MTC Commission, working closely together and with the bill’s author, Assemblymember Chiu to develop the legislation. The bill called for the creation of a Housing Finance Authority for the Bay Area with potential funding provided by a measure which would have gone before voters on the November 2020 ballot. 

Economic concerns led the agencies to defer placing the measure on the ballot in November 2020.  In order to continue to work towards meeting the region’s housing needs, an Expanded Regional Housing Portfolio is a reframed approach to the housing crisis and AB 1487. ABAG is creating a distinct Housing Committee to lead this effort alongside BAHFA.

Please contact with questions about the RHNA process or visit the RHNA website to sign up for the RHNA mailing list.