Communities & Environment > Planning > Housing > Housing Elements

Housing Elements

By law, every city and county in California must adopt a Housing Element as part of its General Plan. The purpose of the Housing Element is to ensure that local governments adequately plan to meet the housing needs of all people within the community regardless of their income. The underlying premise of Housing Element law is that, for the private market to adequately address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land use plans and regulatory systems which provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development.

For the Bay Area the "projection period" or the time period for which the Regional Housing Need is calculated is January 1, 2014 – October 31, 2022. The "planning period" for the Bay Area, or the time frame between the due date for one housing element and the due date for the next housing element, is January 31, 2015 – January 31, 2023. For more information on the projection or planning periods please refer to this link.

The following pages offer resources to aid jurisdictions with their housing element update process.


  • HCD Building Blocks Housing Element Toolkit: This comprehensive toolkit put together by the California Department of Housing and Community Development offers step by step instructions on how to put together an effective housing element.
  • Blueprint 2001 Housing Element Ideas and Solutions: This ambitious toolkit created by ABAG and regional partners in the Bay Area provides a thorough overview of all steps to creating an effective housing element including local examples for each policy solution. While the document was originally created in 2001, it remains an important resource today for jurisdictions updating their housing elements.

Links to the various government codes for Housing Elements: