The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is mandated by State Housing Law as part of the periodic process of updating local housing elements of the General Plan. RHNA quantifies the need for housing within each jurisdiction during specified planning periods.
In March 2020, SCAG adopted its 6th cycle RHNA allocation plan, which covers the planning period October 2021 through October 2029. For the 6th cycle, SCAG received a need of 1,341,827 housing units, which was distributed to all 197 SCAG jurisdictions.
Communities use RHNA in land use planning, prioritizing local resource allocation, and in deciding how to address identified existing and future housing needs resulting from population, employment and household growth. RHNA does not necessarily encourage or promote growth, but rather allows communities to anticipate growth, so that collectively the region and subregion can grow in ways that enhance quality of life, improve access to jobs, promotes transportation mobility, and addresses social equity and fair share housing needs.
The 6th Cycle RHNA has led for requests for SCAG to pursue reform of the RHNA process. Several issues had been raised by stakeholders related to the regional determination methodology, the use of land planning factors in the SCAG RHNA methodology, and basis for RHNA appeals.
As part of Assembly Bill 101, HCD is tasked with preparing a report on the RHNA reform and making recommendations to the State Legislature by December 31, 2022. While there is currently no information available about HCD’s timeline, SCAG will begin an outreach process to stakeholders to collect input on RHNA reform and make recommendations to Community, Economic Development Committee, and Regional Council for submittal to HCD.
Presumed statewide workshops on RHNA reform by HCD
CEHD Meeting to review and approve recommendations to Regional Council
Regional Council approval of CEHD recommendations/submit final RHNA reform recommendations to HCD
Presumed due date for comments to HCD on RHNA Reform
Due date for HCD’s report to the Legislature on RHNA Reform
In October 2021, the California State Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved an emergency audit to examine HCD’s regional determination process. The request for an audit was based on an assertion that the public had limited information on the formula that HCD uses to calculate the RHNA regional determination numbers, and cited confusion and mistrust among regional planning bodies and jurisdictions, and the need for an independent and objective review of the process.
Summary of Findings
HCD made several errors regarding data calculations and does not have sufficient management review process
HCD could not demonstrate consistency and work group recommendations regarding several factors, including jobs housing balance and housing destroyed during state of emergency, and Inconsistent application of comparable regions, as required by statute.
These errors and inaccuracies led HCD to understate regional determination for these 3 regions and possibly others. The audit outlined a series of recommendations for HCD and the California Department of Finance to improve the regional determination process, including the implementation of these recommendations in the coming year.