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Sacramento, CA 94244-2020

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Housing Element Law Requires Planning for Affordable Housing


In 2010, California Senate Bill 812 added a specific requirement that Housing Elements must include an analysis of services and housing needs for persons with developmental disabilities. To be responsive to this requirement, the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) maintains an accounting of the number of persons with developmental disabilities served by zip code. This information is used in the analysis of existing and projected supportive services and housing needs of DDS consumers in the Housing Element process. California law recognizes that in order for the public and private sector to adequately address housing needs of all populations, local government land use plans must include a variety of zoning options. Consequently, California has taken the lead nationally, adopting Housing Element Law originally established in 1969. The law requires public participation in the Housing Element process as the general public, housing developers, social service providers and various government departments discuss and plan for affordable housing opportunities.

What is a Housing Element?

  • All cities and counties in California must prepare a Housing Element; typically, local governments assign the process to their planning department, community development department or housing authority.
  • Public participation, including outreach for the housing element process and implementation of programs is required. Outreach should include all segments of the population, including special needs populations, such as seniors and people with disabilities, including persons with developmental disabilities.
  • A housing needs assessment of existing and projected populations is required, including the availability and planning for infrastructure (water, sewer, transportation, etc.) to meet future growth.
  • Each jurisdiction establishes a specific plan to achieve its housing goals: rezoning properties to increase densities as needed.

Housing Element Policies and Programs:

  • An analysis of special needs populations, including senior citizens, farmworkers, large families, female head of households and persons with disabilities is required.
  • A sites inventory list of available parcels and their zoning classification is required.
  • Proximity of identified sites in relationship to public transportation, jobs, services, shopping and schools, in addition to available services, is included in the Housing Element.
  • Planning, identification and commitments of available funding for affordable housing and infrastructure are included.

How do I access the Housing Element in my community?

Housing Elements are posted on local government planning or community development websites. Call or visit your local city or county government office, or visit their website to determine where they are in the Housing Element process. Citizen participation in the process does make a difference!

Visit the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s website to determine the due date of your city or county’s next Housing Element due date, or the status of their last submitted Housing Element.

Last Updated: 3/2/2018