Regional Housing Technical Assistance Tools and Resources

Regional Housing Technical Assistance Tools and Resources

ABAG launched its Regional Housing Technical Assistance program to assist local jurisdictions in adopting and implementing compliant Housing Elements, ensuring that Bay Area jurisdictions remain competitive for various state funding programs to increase housing opportunities.

To avoid duplication of effort, assistance includes development of regionally applicable products that can be tailored by local staff to meet their respective needs. The following is a list of currently available tools and resources, but please check back often; additional materials will be added as developed.

Regional Data Tools Save Time and Money

ABAG is providing local governments with access to two online tools estimated to save Bay Area local governments some $3.3 million and significant staff hours. These tools also ease the administrative burden on the state, as the state’s Housing and Community Development (HCD) staff have pre-screened the tools for consistency with state requirements to streamline their regulatory compliance reviews. Watch the ABAG training webinars on Housing Sites Inventory and data packets on the training page.

  • The Housing Element Site Selection “HESS” Tool identifies potential sites in all Bay Area cities and counties for Housing Element site inventories, and flags those that will likely require rezoning to be used under new state laws. By leveraging a variety of datasets, HESS allows planners to visualize and screen sites based on HCD’s minimum zoning and density requirements, natural hazards, proximity to transit, access to opportunity, and much more. It also automatically populates sections of HCD’s new reporting form. The tool is being further enhanced this year with data related to promoting fair housing policies.

Local planning staff who have not yet accessed the HESS Tool can create an account. 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

For more information about Regional Data Products contact:
Somaya Abdelgany, Associate Regional Housing Planner (415) 778-5217

Advancing Fair Housing

ABAG adopted an Equity Platform to guide its work, which will include technical assistance to local governments to meet state and federal requirements to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). These requirements stem from the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, as well as from federal regulations (updated in July 2021). California Legislation enacted in 2018 (AB 686, Santiago, Chapter 958) likewise requires all public agencies in the state to affirmatively further fair housing and avoid any actions that is inconsistent with this obligation.

RHTA funds are supporting pioneering research between ABAG and UC Merced to study segregation patterns and current land use policies that correlate with patterns of racial segregation. ABAG also aims to leverage Opportunity Maps created by the State Tax Credit Allocation Committee to assess a community’s fair housing issues.

For more information about Housing Equity/AFFH contact:
Christy Leffall, Associate Planner (415) 820-7940

Regional Support for Civic Engagement

Public participation in housing decisions is key to solving the region’s housing crisis. ABAG has allocated nearly $2 million in RHTA funds to support local planners and policy makers as they engage their communities around the Housing Element and related implementation. On-call language translations and communications help will be offered, and ABAG’s website is being updated to include supporting materials, research-based messaging guidance, online platforms, and best practices in engagement outside of traditional public meetings. The site also will include templates for fact sheets, presentations, display boards, etc., creating efficiencies while allowing for tailoring to reflect local issues.

For more information about civic engagement contact:
Leah Zippert, Public Information Officer (415) 820-7995

Connecting Resiliency Planning and Environmental Justice

State law requires the Safety Element of the General Plan be updated concurrently with the Housing Element. Additionally, when two or more general plan elements are updated, jurisdictions with disadvantaged communities must address Environmental Justice, either in a stand-alone element or as a cross-cutting topic across multiple elements. ABAG has developed products and trainings designed to assist local planning staffwith the integration of resiliency planning for climate change into their Housing Elements, including drawing connections to the Safety and Environmental Justice (EJ) Elements. See related links below:

For more information about resilience contact:
Michael Germeraad, Associate Planner (415) 820-7945

Assistance Tailored to Local Needs
Recognizing that a top-down approach to the historically local issue of housing will be counterproductive, ABAG granted nearly $5 million in RHTA funding to Bay Area counties to support Planning Collaboratives, Peer Cohorts and working groups to spark a culture of innovation via peer-to-peer learning, sharing of best practices and lessons learned. Additionally, ABAG has established a Regional Planning Consulting Bench to streamline procurements. More information on these tailored local programs as well as local grants can be found on the Assistance Tailored to Local Needs page.

Contact Information

For More Information Email

Civic Engagement
Leah Zippert, Senior Public Information Officer
(415) 820-7995

Data Tools
Somaya Abdelgany, Associate Regional Housing Planner
(415) 778-5217

Housing Equity/AFFH
Christy Leffall, Associate Planner
(415) 820-7940

Michael Germeraad, Associate Planner
(415) 820-7945

Online Training Series
Ada Chan, Associate Planner
(415) 820-7958

Peer Cohorts and Topic-Specific Workgroups
Somaya Abdelgany, Associate Regional Housing Planner
(415) 778-5217

County Planning Collaboratives:
Bobby Lu, Associate Planner
(415) 820 7925

Local Grants & Regional Planning Consulting Bench:
Grecia Mannah-Ayon, Assistant Regional Housing Planner
(415) 778-7935,
or Heather Peters, Principal Regional Housing Planner

Other Technical Assistance

ABAG and its regional partners offer a variety of programs to city and county agencies to provide planning and technical support to reach local and regional goals of greenhouse gas reduction, equity, affordability and resilience.

Visit this Technical Assistance web page for a listing of assistance programs by various categories.

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Subscribe to the Housing Technical Assistance Mailing List

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