Housing Technical Assistance Program

Housing Technical Assistance Program

Program Details

ABAG has launched the Regional Housing Technical Assistance (RHTA) 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 (RHTA) Program, including over $10 million in local REAP grants at its meeting in November. The presentation and related documents are available. 


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 RHTA 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:

Interactive Site Selection Tool

  • Local Housing Needs Data Packets: These jurisdiction-level data packets contain tables, figures, and accompanying text that can be placed directly into the Housing Needs Section of the Housing Element. State law requires local jurisdictions to analyze their communities’ housing needs and resources available to address them. ABAG/MTC has compiled demographic, economic, and housing stock data required by HCD for each Bay Area jurisdiction so that local planning staff can focus on developing meaningful policies and programs. The data packets include some data related to the state’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH), and additional AFFH data products will be released in summer 2021. Additional information about the Data Packets was presented at the Housing Element webinar on "Using Data Effectively in Housing Element Updates – ABAG’s Housing Needs Data Packets and Accessing the U.S. Census."

The data packets have been pre-reviewed by HCD for consistency with state requirements to increase predictability in the Housing Element approval process. PDF versions of the Housing Needs Data Packets, as well the underlying data tables in Excel, for all 109 jurisdictions can be downloaded here.

Local planning staff can also download an editable Word Document version of their respective jurisdiction’s Housing Needs Data Packet from the Housing Element Site Selection (HESS) Tool. If staff have not yet accessed the HESS Tool, they can create an account to download the data packets. Please note that it may take a couple of business days for the ABAG/MTC team to verify and activate the account. If your jurisdiction has a consultant working on your Housing Element update, you may request direct access to the HESS Tool and Housing Needs Data Packet on their behalf by emailing HousingTA@bayareametro.gov.

Coming Soon:
  • Regional Consulting Bench (“Bench”): Earlier this year, ABAG and MTC jointly issued an RFQ for a Regional Consulting Bench to support local planning at favorable rates with the goal of facilitating access to consultant resources, achieving economies of scale and reducing costs. The RFQ seeks qualified consultants in the following service categories:
    1. Comprehensive Planning: develop plans adopted by Local Governments, such as Specific Plans, that encompass comprehensive community goals and public policies, including transportation, land use, housing, utilities, and recreation.
    2. Engagement and Outreach: meaningfully and authentically engage diverse stakeholders in planning and community development processes.
    3. Housing Policy and Planning: develop plans, policies, and programs related to housing production and preservation, and resident protections – including but not limited to local Housing Elements.
    4. Process Improvements: assist Local Governments with identifying and implementing improvements to their permitting and approval processes.
    5. Transportation Policy and Implementation: develop and implement transportation policies and planning for infrastructure projects.
    6. Transportation Program Development and Administration: develop and administer transportation programs.
    7. Economic & Real Estate Analysis: model economic and real estate trends on a regional, county, city, or site-specific scale.
    8. Environment and Resilience: develop plans, policies, and tools related to resilience and environmental protection and safety elements.
    9. Legal Counsel: provide legal advice to Local Governments as it relates to land use, housing, and transportation.
    10. Temporary Staffing for Local Governments: provide temporary in-house staff for Local Governments, typically in the planning, building, or community development department.
    11. Grant Writing: assist Local Governments with completion of federal, state, and other grant applications.

    Staff is currently reviewing a high-volume of responses to the RFQ and expects to be taking recommendations to MTC and to the ABAG Executive Board for approval in May. The RFQ contains a “cooperative use clause”, so once the Bench is approved, it will be available to all local jurisdictions in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties to utilize. Please review this FAQ for more details about accessing the Bench and email HousingTA@BayAreaMetro.gov with any additional questions you may have.


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 2020 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.

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.

October 2020 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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Join the Housing TA mailing list to receive email updates about the initiative and ways to get involved!