RHNA - Regional Housing Needs Allocation

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RHNA is one of ABAG's many responsibilities to ensure that affordable housing needs are planned for everyone in the Bay Area.

RHNA - Regional Housing Needs Allocation

On May 20, 2021, the ABAG Executive Board approved the Final Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Methodology and Draft Allocations. Approval of the Final RHNA Methodology followed the finding in April 2021 by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) that the Draft RHNA Methodology furthered the RHNA objectives.

Release of the Draft RHNA Allocations initiates the final phase of the RHNA process. During the coming weeks, a local jurisdiction or HCD can submit an appeal to ABAG requesting a change to any Bay Area jurisdiction’s allocation. Key dates in the appeals process include:

  • May 25, 2021: official release of Draft RHNA Allocations.

  • July 9, 2021: deadline for jurisdictions or HCD to submit an appeal of a jurisdiction’s Draft Allocation.

  • August 30, 2021: deadline for comments on appeals submitted.

  • September and/or October: ABAG conducts public hearing to consider appeals and comments received.

Visit the Appeals Process page for more details.

Following completion of the RHNA appeals process in fall 2021, remaining major milestones in coming months include:

  • Late 2021: the ABAG Executive Board will adopt Final Allocations, taking into consideration the results of the appeals process. This final adoption will also include a public hearing.

  • January 2023: Housing Element updates are due to HCD.

RHNA Background
California state law recognizes that local governments play a vital role in developing affordable housing. In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of our residents—regardless of income.

This state mandate is called the Housing Element and Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA. As part of RHNA, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, determines the total number of new homes the Bay Area needs to build—and how affordable those homes need to be—in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels.

ABAG, working with the Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) , then distributes a share of the region’s housing need to each city, town and county in the region. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its general plan to show the locations where housing can be built and the policies and strategies necessary to meet the community’s housing needs.

Visit the HCD website and get the full RHNA details.

ABAG’s RHNA Responsibilities
ABAG conducts the RHNA process every eight years as required by state law. The last completed cycle is from 2015 to 2023. The schedule of key milestones provides more details for how ABAG is conducting the RHNA process for 2023 to 2031.

As noted above, the heart of ABAG’s work on RHNA is developing the methodology to allocate a portion of housing needs to each city, town, and county in the region. The RHNA is required to meet the five statutory objectives summarized below:

  1. Increase housing supply and mix of housing types, with the goal of improving housing affordability and equity in all cities and counties within the region.
  2. Promote infill development and socioeconomic equity; protect environmental and agricultural resources; encourage efficient development patterns; and achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets.
  3. Improve intra-regional jobs-to-housing relationship, including the balance between low-wage jobs and affordable housing units for low-wage workers in each jurisdiction.
  4. Balance disproportionate household income distributions (more high-income allocation to lower-income areas, and vice-versa)
  5. Affirmatively further fair housing

RHNA must also be consistent with the growth pattern from the region’s long-range land use and transportation plan, Plan Bay Area 2050.

The RHNA process has many components, as follows:

Region’s Total Housing Need
HCD identifies the number of housing units needed across all income levels for the San Francisco Bay Area for the eight-year RHNA cycle. In a letter dated June 9, 2020, HCD provided ABAG with the Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) for the Bay Area:

ABAG Regional Housing Needs Determination from HCD

Income Category


Housing Unit Need

Very Low









Above Moderate






View the following documents to learn more about the Bay Area’s RHND:

Housing Methodology Committee
ABAG convened the Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) in October 2019 to advise staff on the methodology to distribute to each local government a fair share of the region’s total housing need that was assigned by State HCD. The HMC included local elected officials and staff representing every county as well as regional stakeholders to facilitate sharing of diverse perspectives.

The HMC worked collaboratively to recommend a methodology that advances the five RHNA objectives identified in Housing Element Law and is consistent with the forecasted development pattern from Plan Bay Area 2050, as required by law.

On Friday, September 18, 2020, the HMC recommended a Proposed RHNA Methodology for the San Francisco Bay Area after nearly a year of meetings. The ABAG Regional Planning Committee and Executive Board approved the Proposed RHNA Methodology in October 2020, which was followed by a public comment period.

Local Jurisdiction Survey and Fair Housing Report
By law, ABAG is required to survey its member jurisdictions to gather information to inform the development of the RHNA methodology. Recent legislation also requires ABAG to collect information on jurisdictions’ fair housing issues, strategies and actions for achieving fair housing goals. ABAG conducted the survey in early 2020 and compiled a summary of the results. Copies of the surveys submitted by each jurisdiction are available on the Appeals Process page.

Local Jurisdiction and HCD Appeals of Draft Allocations
ABAG adopted the Final RHNA Methodology and Draft Allocations on May 20, 2021. Release of the Draft Allocations kicks off the period in which a local jurisdiction or HCD can submit an appeal to ABAG requesting a change to any Bay Area jurisdiction’s allocation. Visit the Appeals Process page for more details.

Local Housing Element Updates
Once a local government has received its final RHNA from ABAG, it must revise the Housing Element of its general plan and update zoning ordinances to accommodate its portion of the region's housing need. Communities are also required to report their progress to HCD annually. Visit the HCD website for more information about Housing Elements.

As part of the RHNA process, local jurisdictions have the opportunity to form a subregion to conduct an allocation process that parallels — but is separate from — the regional process.

Once each subregion receives its share of the total housing need by income, it must meet the same statutory requirements and follow the same steps as the regional allocation process.

Every subregion must develop its own methodology, issue draft allocations to member jurisdictions, conduct the revision and appeal processes, and issue final allocations.

One subregion formed in Solano County for the 2023-2031 RHNA. It includes all jurisdictions in the county. On January 21, 2021, the ABAG Executive Board approved the Final Subregional Share for the Solano Subregion:


Very Low



Above Moderate


Solano County






Do you have questions about RHNA? Email RHNA@bayareametro.gov. Interested in getting updates on RHNA? Add yourself to the RHNA Mailing List.

Housing Policy Tool Kits

HCD Building Blocks Housing Element Toolkit: Visit the HCD website for a comprehensive toolkit that offers step by step instructions on how to put together an effective Housing Element.

Housing Policy Toolkit, Regional Housing Forum [PDF]: Download ABAG’s own housing toolkit “Maintaining Housing Affordability and Neighborhood Stability in the Bay Area.” We cover a series of policy recommendations published by a number of organizations.

Housing Policy Directory & Toolkit: Find out what housing policies are in use in communities throughout the Bay Area and learn more details about housing best practices, including key issues to consider and links to sample ordinances.

Housing Needs Determination from HCD

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) identifies the total number of homes for which each region in California must plan in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels. This is known as the Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND). ABAG is responsible for developing a methodology to allocate a portion of the RHND to every local government in the Bay Area.

View the following documents to learn more about the Bay Area’s RHND:

RHNA Webinar

A recent webinar provided local staff with a template PowerPoint to assist staff they prepare for upcoming housing element update.  ABAG-MTC staff presented an overview of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process and a high-level analysis of new housing element site requirements and impacts on existing RHNA sites. 

View the webinar recording here. The password is 9u569V$6.


Older RHNA Processes and Progress Reports

Learn more about ABAG’s most recently completed RHNA process.  More information is available for the older RHNA processes. View documents from 2007–2014 and 1999–2006.

See how local jurisdictions have done in meeting their RHNA goals over the years:

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Subscribe to the RHNA Mailing List

Join the RHNA mailing list to receive email updates about the initiative and ways to get involved.