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RHNA - Regional Housing Needs Allocation

RHNA is one of ABAG's many responsibilities to ensure that affordable housing needs are planned for everyone in the Bay Area.

January 27, 2022 Update

California Department of Housing and Community Development Approves Bay Area's RHNA

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has approved the ABAG Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Plan, marking the final step of a two-year collaborative process. "We appreciate ABAG’s efforts in completing the RHNA process," the agency wrote in its approval letter, issued on January 12, 2022. HCD’s approval comes just one month after action by the ABAG Executive Board to approve the Final RHNA, which occurred on December 16, 2021.

HCD required the Bay Area to plan for and revise local zoning to accommodate 441,176 additional housing units during the 2023-31 period. The approved final RHNA plan distributes this requirement among the region’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns. "HCD is committed to assisting ABAG’s local governments in preparing and implementing updated Housing Elements to effectively address the region’s housing need," the agency wrote. "Local governments are encouraged to develop local land use strategies to maximize land resources and encourage affordable housing and a variety of housing types, thus furthering the state’s economic, fair housing, and environmental objectives."

Through its Regional Housing Technical Assistance program, ABAG offers a variety of tools and resources to support local governments as they complete their Housing Element updates. These include training webinars and data tools; support for planning collaboratives, peer cohorts and topic-specific working groups; regional support for civic engagement; and access to a bench of pre-qualified consultants. For more information, visit the webpage or send an email to [email protected].

Executive Board Adopts Final RHNA Plan

On December 16, 2021, the ABAG Executive Board adopted the Final RHNA Plan: San Francisco Bay Area, 2023-2031, following a public hearing. This is the final step in ABAG’s RHNA process that began in October 2019. Each local government in the Bay Area must now update the Housing Element of its general plan and its zoning to demonstrate how it can accommodate its RHNA. Housing Element updates are due to HCD by January 31, 2023.

RHNA Background

California state law(link is external) recognizes that local governments play a vital role in developing affordable housing. In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of our residents—regardless of income.

This state mandate is called the Housing Element and Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA. As part of RHNA, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, determines the total number of new homes the Bay Area needs to build—and how affordable those homes need to be—in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels.

ABAG, working with the Housing Methodology Committee (HMC), then distributes a share of the region's housing need to each city, town and county in the region. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its general plan to show the locations where housing can be built and the policies and strategies necessary to meet the community's housing needs.

Visit the HCD website(link is external) and get the full RHNA details.

ABAG's RHNA Responsibilities

ABAG conducts the RHNA process every eight years as required by state law. The heart of ABAG's work on RHNA is developing the methodology to allocate a portion of housing needs to each city, town, and county in the region. The RHNA is required to meet the five statutory objectives summarized below:

  1. Increase housing supply and mix of housing types, with the goal of improving housing affordability and equity in all cities and counties within the region.
  2. Promote infill development and socioeconomic equity; protect environmental and agricultural resources; encourage efficient development patterns; and achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets.
  3. Improve intra-regional jobs-to-housing relationship, including the balance between low-wage jobs and affordable housing units for low-wage workers in each jurisdiction.
  4. Balance disproportionate household income distributions (more high-income allocation to lower-income areas, and vice-versa)
  5. Affirmatively further fair housing

RHNA must also be consistent with the growth pattern from the region's long-range plan for transportation, housing, the economy and the environment, known as Plan Bay Area 2050(link is external).

The RHNA process has many components, as follows:

Region's Total Housing Need

HCD identifies the number of housing units needed across all income levels for the San Francisco Bay Area for the eight-year RHNA cycle. In a letter dated June 9, 2020(link is external), HCD provided ABAG with the Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) for the Bay Area:

ABAG Regional Housing Needs Determination from HCD

Income Category


Housing Unit Need

Very Low









Above Moderate






View the following documents to learn more about the Bay Area’s RHND:

Housing Methodology Committee

ABAG convened the Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) in October 2019 to advise staff on the methodology to distribute to each local government a fair share of the region's total housing need that was assigned by State HCD. The HMC included local elected officials and staff representing every county as well as regional stakeholders to facilitate sharing of diverse perspectives.

The HMC worked collaboratively to recommend a methodology that advances the five RHNA objectives identified in Housing Element Law and is consistent with the forecasted development pattern from Plan Bay Area 2050(link is external), as required by law.

On Friday, September 18, 2020, the HMC recommended a Proposed RHNA Methodology for the San Francisco Bay Area after nearly a year of meetings. The ABAG Regional Planning Committee and Executive Board approved the Proposed RHNA Methodology in October 2020, which was followed by a public comment period.

Local Jurisdiction Survey and Fair Housing Report

By law, ABAG is required to survey its member jurisdictions to gather information to inform the development of the RHNA methodology. Recent legislation also requires ABAG to collect information on jurisdictions’ fair housing issues, strategies and actions for achieving fair housing goals. ABAG conducted the survey in early 2020 and compiled a summary of the results. Copies of the surveys submitted by each jurisdiction are available on the Appeals Process page.

Local Jurisdiction and HCD Appeals of Draft Allocations

On May 20, 2021, the ABAG Executive Board approved the Final Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Methodology and Draft Allocations. Approval of the Final RHNA Methodology followed the finding in April 2021 by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) that the Draft RHNA Methodology furthered the RHNA objectives.

Release of the Draft RHNA Allocations initiated the appeals phase of the RHNA process. Local jurisdictions and HCD had until July 9, 2021 to submit an appeal to ABAG requesting a change to any Bay Area jurisdiction’s allocation.

ABAG received 28 appeals from Bay Area jurisdictions by the July 9th deadline. In September and October, the ABAG Administrative Committee conducted a public hearing to consider the appeals and comments received about those appeals.

On November 12, 2021, the ABAG Administrative Committee ratified a written final determination on each appeal. The Committee denied all appeals submitted by local jurisdictions, with the exception of the appeal submitted by the County of Contra Costa. As allowed by Government Code Section 65584.05(e)(1), the Administrative Committee determined that 35 RHNA units should be transferred to the City of Pittsburg, and this transfer of units has been reflected in the Final RHNA Plan. The appeals process did not affect the allocations for any jurisdictions other than the County of Contra Costa and the City of Pittsburg.

Visit the Appeals Process page for more details.

Local Housing Element Updates

Once a local government has received its final RHNA from ABAG, it must revise the Housing Element of its general plan and update zoning ordinances to accommodate its portion of the region's housing need. Communities are also required to report their progress to HCD annually. Visit the HCD website(link is external) for more information about Housing Elements.


As part of the RHNA process, local jurisdictions have the opportunity to form a subregion to conduct an allocation process that parallels — but is separate from — the regional process.

Once each subregion receives its share of the total housing need by income, it must meet the same statutory requirements and follow the same steps as the regional allocation process.

Every subregion must develop its own methodology, issue draft allocations to member jurisdictions, conduct the revision and appeal processes, and issue final allocations.

One subregion formed in Solano County for the 2023-2031 RHNA. It includes all jurisdictions in the county. On January 21, 2021, the ABAG Executive Board approved the Final Subregional Share for the Solano Subregion:


Very Low



Above Moderate


Solano County






The Solano Subregion adopted its final RHNA allocations on November 18, 2021. For more information visit the Solano County site(link is external).


Do you have questions about RHNA? Email [email protected].

RHNA Processes and Progress Reports

The California Department of Housing and Community Development tracks local jurisdiction progress in meeting RHNA goals. This is based on the data local jurisdictions provide in the Housing Element Annual Progress Report (APR). The information is available on HCD’s website at is external). See how local jurisdictions have done in meeting their RHNA goals over the years:

Learn more about ABAG’s 2015-2023 RHNA process. More information is also available for older RHNA processes. View documents from 2007–2014 and 1999–2006.

Subscribe to the RHNA Mailing List

Join the RHNA mailing list to receive email updates about the initiative and ways to get involved.

Technical Assistance

The Technical Assistance (TA) Portal has a variety of resources for local agency staff.