Albert Lopez
Planning Director

Alameda County Housing Element Update 2023-2031

What is a Housing Element?

¿Qué es un Elemento de Vivienda (Housing Element)


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The Housing Element is one important part of a city or county's General Plan, which serves as the blueprint for how a city or county will grow and address changing needs for development. Every eight years, every city, town, and county must update their Housing Element and have it certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

A Housing Element is a local plan, adopted by a city, town or county that includes the goals, policies and programs that direct decision-making around housing. State law does not require that jurisdictions build or finance new housing, but they must plan for it.

All jurisdictions in the Bay Area must update their Housing Element for the 2023-2031 planning period. Local jurisdictions look at housing trends, zoning and market constraints, and evaluate various approaches to meeting housing needs across income levels.

Local governments must involve the public from all economic segments of the community in developing the Housing Element.

Every city in California receives a target number of homes to plan for. This is called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation or RHNA. The State of California determines the number of new homes the Bay Area needs to plan for - and how affordable those homes need to be - in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels.

The Association of Bay Area Governments convened diverse stakeholders in a Housing Methodology Committee to distribute the region's housing allocation to each jurisdiction in the Bay Area.

The Inventory of Available Sites, or "Sites Inventory," is a key component of a Housing Element where jurisdictions identify if they have enough land zoned for housing to meet the future need.

Housing elements must be updated every eight years and must be certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development

What Are the Components of a Housing Element?

There are many pieces to a Housing Element. The plan typically includes:

  1. Housing Needs Assessment: Examine demographic, employment and housing trends and conditions that affect the housing needs of the community.
  2. Evaluation of Past Performance: Review the prior Housing Element to measure progress in implementing policies and programs.
  3. Housing Sites Inventory: Identify locations of available sites for housing development or redevelopment to ensure that there is adequate capacity to address the Regional Housing Needs Allocation.
  4. Community Outreach and Engagement: Implement a robust community outreach and engagement program, with a particular focus on outreach to traditionally underrepresented groups.
  5. Constraints Analysis: Analyze and recommend remedies for existing and potential governmental and nongovernmental barriers to housing development.
  6. Policies and Programs: Establish policies and programs to fulfill the identified housing needs.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)

To address and ameliorate the long history of housing discrimination in California, every Housing Element planning process is now required to evaluate how to affirmatively further fair housing. These requirements are dictated by California Assembly Bills 686 and 1304. You can read more about the need for AFFH throughout the state in this guidance from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) here.

From HCD,

"Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) seeks to combat housing discrimination, eliminate racial bias, undo historic patterns of segregation, and lift barriers that restrict access in order to foster inclusive communities and achieve racial equity, fair housing choice, and opportunity for all Californians."

What is fair housing choice? Fair housing choice means that individuals and families have the information, opportunity, and options to live where they choose without unlawful discrimination and other barriers related to race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, or other protected characteristics.

The Planning Department is writing an analysis of data related to affirmatively furthering fair housing. A draft will be posted later in the Housing Element process. For now, you can explore housing maps here and other housing data here.