Housing Technical Assistance Program

Housing Technical Assistance Program

Regional Early Action Planning Grants

Program Details

ABAG has launched the regional housing technical assistance program with the support of state funding from 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. As the Bay Area’s Council of Governments, ABAG is eligible to receive funding from HCD through the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grants program on a population-based formula – totaling roughly $23.9 million. The funding will support work through the end of December 2023.

This regional funding complements a total of almost $50 million in funding being provided directly by HCD to local jurisdictions in the Bay Area through SB 2 Planning Grants and the Local Early Action Planning (LEAP) grants program.

The ABAG Executive Board approved the full program design and budget for the Regional Housing Technical Assistance (TA) Program, including over $10 million in local REAP grants at its meeting in November. The presentation and related documents are available. 

Contact Heather Peters, hpeters@bayareametro.gov for more information about local REAP funding allocations and Mark Shorett, mshorett@bayareametro.gov for more information about PDA Planning Grants.

Get more information:  You can sign-up for the interested parties list on this page to get additional program information.

ABAG’s Regional Housing TA Program was designed in close consultation with local planning staff throughout the Bay Area. What we heard was that there is a strong need for regional housing technical assistance and also for more local funding to supplement SB 2 and LEAP, so the program will include both.

Regional Housing TA Products

To avoid duplication of effort, regionally applicable products that can be tailored by local staff to meet their needs is under development. These products will include staff report templates, FAQs and slide decks on common topics such as changes to housing element laws, including new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) requirements. Technical assistance for innovative and effective community engagement to increase participation during COVID and beyond will be included. Additionally, ABAG will work with HCD to negotiate what will be called “Safe Harbors” such as pre-approval by HCD of data production (discussed below) to increase predictability in the housing element approval process. ABAG will also serve as a regional clearinghouse for local planners’ questions to save them time and ensure consistent interpretations of state law.

Resources Available Now:

  • ABAG Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program Training Series, a 10-part training series from February 23, 2021 through August, 2021
  • Template RFP for local jurisdictions to hire planning consultants for Planning Collaboratives
  • Template RFP for local jurisdictions to hire consultants to assist with Housing Element updates
  • Housing Element Site Selection (HESS) Tool: This online tool 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. Presently this tool screens sites based on HCD’s minimum requirements and will automatically populate sections of HCD’s new reporting form. Next year, the tool will be enhanced with data related to affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH). HCD is reviewing the HESS tool to ensure compliance with state law providing a “Safe Harbor” for local jurisdictions that use it. The beta version of the HESS tool was presented at a recent webinar.

Local planning staff can request HESS log in credentials from Somaya Abdelgany:   sabdelgany@bayareametro.gov.

Interactive Site Selection Tool

Coming Soon:

  • Local Housing Needs Data Packets: these are jurisdiction-level housing needs data packets with charts and graphs that local staff can add directly into their housing elements. The 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. These packets are also discussed in the HESS webinar and presentation linked above.

The data packets are currently under review by HCD and are expected to be pre-approved as meeting the minimum standards per state law creating another safe harbor for local jurisdictions that use them. More detail on both HESS and the Data Packets can be found in the data tools materials handout.

Housing Needs Data Packets

  • Regional Consulting Bench: This effort will recruit and vet multiple consultants with various skill sets to support local planning at favorable rates with the goal of facilitating access to consultant resources, achieving economies of scale and reducing costs. 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 using their SB2, LEAP and REAP funds.

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.

Regional Consulting Bench


ABAG’s Executive Board approved the following local REAP funding allocations in November:

$10.088M REAP Local Allocations:

  • Available Funds
    • $500K RHNA Subregions & County Collaboratives
    • $2.18M Initial Minimum Allocation
  • Future Funds
    • $3M Supplemental RHNA Allocation
    • $1M Competitive Tranche(s) with small jurisdiction set aside
    • $4.2M County Planning Collaborative support

$10.088M REAP Local Allocations

Regional Housing TA Program Structure

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 funded through local allocations (see local funding details below). These coordinators will 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. The Peer Cohorts will be funded by ABAG and run by its staff and consultants.
  • Topic-specific Workgroups – Short-term, "deep dive" sessions for jurisdictions working on specific housing issues or adopting similar legislation. These could include understanding new ADU laws and drafting local ordinance updates; or jurisdictions interested in advancing equity in their housing elements. The Workgroups will be funded by ABAG and run its staff and consultants.

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.

Collaboratives and Work Groups

HCD Announces Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Requirements for Local Governments

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.  

Child holding adult hand walking in sunWhat 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.

July Technical Assistance Webinar - Meeting Materials Available

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.

Recording - Planning Innovations Webinar

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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