Housing Element

What is a Housing Element?

A Housing Element is how local jurisdictions plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. The Housing Element is one of the required elements of the General Plan. It is an adopted local plan that includes the goals, policies and programs that direct decision-making around housing. Every eight years (referred to as "cycles"), every city, town and county in California must update their Housing Element and have it certified by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The current 5th Cycle Housing Element plans for the period of 2015 to 2023. A Housing Element typically includes the following components:

  1. Housing Needs Assessment: Demographic, employment and housing trends and conditions that affect the housing needs of the community.
  2. Evaluation of Past Performance: Review of the prior Housing Element to measure progress in implementing it's policies and programs.
  3. Housing Sites Inventory: Identification of available site locations for housing development or redevelopment to ensure there is adequate capacity to address the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
  4. Community Outreach and Engagement: Implementation of a community outreach and engagement program.
  5. Constraints Analysis: Analysis and recommended remedies for existing and potential barriers to housing development.
  6. Policies and Programs: Establishment of policies and programs to fulfill the identified housing needs.


Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is the number of new homes each jurisdiction must plan for in their Housing Element. The state of California determines the number of new homes the Bay Area needs to plan for - and how affordable those homes need to be - in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels. Following the state's determination, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) then distributes the RHNA allocation to each jurisdiction in the Bay Area. 

6th Cycle Housing Element

The 6th Cycle Housing Element will plan for the period of 2023-2031 and must be adopted by January 2023. 

Visit the Plan Orinda website for up-to-date information, resources, public participation activities, and more related to the 6th Cycle Housing Element update.  


Current Housing Element

5th Cycle Housing Element (2015 - 2023)

HCD Letter of Certification

Prior Housing Elements