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Housing Element Process

Housing Element Workshop

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is the state agency charged with reviewing and approving a city's or county's housing element. Because HCD is ultimately responsible for reviewing every Housing Element for compliance with State law, it can be valuable to get feedback from HCD staff early and often in the Housing Element process. Obtaining this feedback involves communicating with the HCD analyst assigned to work with your jurisdiction, utilizing HCD resources such as staff and housing element toolkits, and working with HCD to make changes to the draft housing element.

In addition to working with HCD, housing element law requires jurisdictions to closely involve the public in the housing element update process. From informing the community of the goals of the housing element to collecting community input on potential housing policies and programs, the public needs to be involved every step of the way.

The following is a brief overview of the required components each jurisdiction must include in its housing element below:

  • A Housing Needs Assessment: provides an overview of a jurisdiction's existing and projected housing needs based upon various demographic data and the jurisdiction's share of the regional housing need.
  • A Sites Inventory and Analysis: provides an inventory of land suitable for residential development and an analysis of the relationship of zoning and public facilities and services to these sites which is used to identify sites that can be developed for housing within the housing element planning period.
  • An Analysis of Constraints on Housing: identifies and analyzes potential and actual governmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, or development of housing for all income levels, including housing for persons with disabilities.
  • A List of Housing Programs: These represent how a community plans to respond to its existing and projected housing needs to accommodate enough housing for all economic segments of the population.
  • Quantified Objectives: This is an estimate of the number of units a jurisdiction will build, rehabilitate, or conserve over the planning period of the element.

Once jurisdictions have crafted a housing element that they are ready to submit for review, HCD has 60 days to conduct an assessment and issue a written statement confirming whether or not the housing element "substantially complies" with Housing Element Law. Other public agencies, groups, and persons are also welcome to submit written comments during the review process. Finally, depending on whether or not the housing element was in compliance, it will either be changed or adopted. HCD will then issue a second written finding within 90 days of submittal stating whether the housing element is in compliance or not with state law.

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