Affordable Housing – Vision Economics

What is Workface Available Housing and How do we Help?

California law recognizes the vital role local governments play in the supply and affordability of housing.  As such, cities and counties are required to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the jurisdiction (i.e. city, city and county, or county).  The Housing Element is one of seven state mandated general plan elements and is required to be updated on a regular interval (planning period), typically five to eight years.  The Housing element law requires local governments to adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs for all economic income segments of the community.

Low Income Retirement Condos or Complex

The law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land use plans and regulatory guidelines that do not unduly constrain or limit housing development.  Housing element law also requires the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to review and “certify” that the housing elements comply with state law.  Thus, implementation of the state’s housing policy rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.

Updates to Housing Elements must account for population growth that is anticipated to occur within the local jurisdiction during the Housing Element planning period.  Population growth translates to the number of housing units local governments are required to plan for in accommodating the projected population growth.

The state determines what each local government’s ‘fair share’ of the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) will be.  RHNA is based on State Department of Finance population projections, designated by income category, which is then distributed by HCD regionally to Council of Governments (COGs).  COGs allocate RHNA “units” for each income category to the counties and cities located within the COG.  Cities and Counties are then obligated to develop their Housing Element planning to accommodate the anticipated growth in population and need for new housing units.  This is done by ensuring appropriate land area is zoned and regulations (policies) adopted that will allow future housing development to meet the RHNA requirement.

The requirement to provide sufficient housing, or better stated, the capacity to build the appropriate housing accommodating all income segments of the community is essential for a healthy living environment.  Not having adequate housing to serve the population will impact a community’s ability to promote job/economic growth with appropriate transportation/circulation systems, supporting a higher quality of life for residents.

It should be noted that it is not the responsibility of the local jurisdiction to build any housing.  It is, however the obligation of local governments to plan for and adopt appropriate policies to allow the housing to be developed to meet the needs of all income segments of the community.

Vision Economics can assist local governments in meeting the requirements associated with meeting local Housing Element needs.  The components of the Housing Element may include development of low-income or affordable housing, housing restricted for employees, in-fill development, inclusionary housing or implementing programs related to implementing adopted Housing Elements, including implementing specific program funding requirements.  This latter component has become particularly critical in view of the loss of funds that once were generated through Redevelopment Agencies to meet local workforce and other affordable housing requirements.  Vision Economics is available to assist in identifying alternative funding sources lost with the elimination of RDAs in 2012.