What is a Housing Element?

A Housing Element is how local jurisdictions plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. At its core, a Housing Element is an opportunity to have a community conversation about how to address local housing challenges and find solutions. 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. 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.

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1. What is a Housing Element?
2. What are the components of a Housing Element?
3. What happens if a jurisdiction does not adopt a Housing Element?
4. Who determines how many housing units are needed and how is the number calculated?
5. Why is the Housing Element Update important?
6. Why update the Safety Element?
7. What is Menlo Park's fair share?
8. What is Environmental Justice?