What is a Housing Element?

A single family home in the suburbs.

A Housing Element is part of a General Plan adopted by a city, town or county that includes the goals, policies and programs that direct decision-making around housing.

The Housing Element is — at its core —  an opportunity to have a community conversation about how to address local housing challenges and find solutions.

This two-page overview addresses common questions about Housing Elements and helps explain:

  • Examples and definition of a Housing Element
  • Certification and legal components of a Housing Element
  • When jurisdiction do not adopt a Housing Element
  • Who determines Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)

Regional Housing Needs Allocation

The amount of housing that each city, town and county must plan for is established by the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).