Housing Element Update

Housing Element

The Housing Element of the General Plan identifies Los Angeles’s housing needs and establishes clear goals and objectives to inform future housing decisions. This important effort will identify existing capacity and guide Los Angeles's housing policy creation and implementation from 2021 to 2029. The state requires that the Housing Element be updated every eight years, and that the Housing Element demonstrate the City has sufficient capacity to accommodate the number of housing units identified in the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). These frequent updates are a reflection of the vital role housing plays in ensuring the shared prosperity of our region. City Planning is working alongside the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) on the 2021-2029 Housing Element, a multi-year update that will help us address the growing housing challenges faced by our City. 

The current 2013-2021 Housing Element sets a number of ambitious goals to increase housing production and preservation, ensure neighborhood livability, prevent discrimination, and end homelessness. This foundation has allowed Los Angeles to advance a progressive set of programs and initiatives to develop and preserve both market-rate and affordable housing. This update presents an opportunity to build on that foundation as we continue to address the housing crisis. To be a truly valuable tool, the Housing Element update requires significant public engagement. Consider signing up for updates to get involved.

Why update the Housing Element? 

California State law requires that Los Angeles update the Citywide Housing Element every eight years. These frequent updates are required because housing is critical to ensure economic prosperity and quality of life in our region. The revised Housing Element must be adopted by the Los Angeles City Council no later than October 2021, or the City of Los Angeles could lose eligibility for significant sources of funding currently provided by the State.

How can the public be involved in this process? 

The success of this update requires extensive community input and engagement. There will be multiple opportunities to participate throughout the update, both in person and online. Please sign up to be notified of the next meeting or opportunity for online input.

What is included in a Housing Element? 

The components of the Housing Element are largely dictated by the State. The following chapters must be included: 

  • A detailed analysis of the City’s demographic, economic and housing characteristics. 
  • A comprehensive analysis of constraints to producing and preserving housing. 
  • A review of the City’s progress in implementing current housing policies and programs. 
  • An identification of goals, objectives, and policies, in addition to a full list of programs that will implement the vision of the plan. 
  • A list of sites that could accommodate new housing, demonstrating the City’s ability to meet our Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). 

Because the Housing Element is updated frequently, the previous element provides a foundation for this update. This update gives us the opportunity to evaluate the previous element and determine which parts have been effective and which should be improved. Read the 2013-2021 Housing Element for more information on existing policies and programs.

What is RHNA?

RHNA stands for “Regional Housing Needs Assessment.” Every eight years, the State of California provides the number of housing units that should be accommodated in the Southern California region. The Southern California Regional Association of Governments (SCAG) takes that larger number and devises a methodology to allocate the units among Los Angeles and surrounding areas. As a part of the Housing Element, Los Angeles must demonstrate to the State that there is available capacity for the units allocated to the City. This year, the regional allocation, and therefore our Los Angeles City allocation, was significantly larger than it has been in past years. This large allocation was a result of the State responding to the housing crisis by considering both “projected need” (i.e., units we need to accommodate new residents) and “existing need” (i.e., units we need to alleviate challenges like overcrowding and homelessness). The allocation also takes affordability into account by identifying the percentage of units that are needed at each income level (very low, low, and moderate).

The exact RHNA allocation will be released by SCAG in August 2020. We estimate the figure will be around 460,000 units. Of this total allocation, we estimate that about 25% should be available to very low income units, 15% to low income, 17% to moderate income, and 43% to market rate. 

Visit the SCAG website for more information on RHNA and the RHNA allocation process. 

Does RHNA require us to build housing? 

Through the RHNA process, we must show that the City has the regulatory and land use policies to accommodate housing needs, but the actual development of housing is largely conducted by the private market. The Housing Element is required to demonstrate potential sites where housing can be accommodated. Identification of a site’s capacity does not guarantee that construction will occur on that site. If there are insufficient sites and capacity to meet the RHNA allocation, then the Housing Element is required to identify a rezoning program to create the required capacity. It is important to note that if we fall significantly behind on our RHNA targets, the City of Los Angeles could be deemed out of compliance and risk losing important sources of funding currently provided by the State.

How is the Housing Element implemented?

The Housing Element sets goals, objectives, policies, and programs that are implemented after the plan is adopted. For example, the 2013-2021 Housing Element directed the City to advance programs like the TOC Incentive Program and Affordable Housing Linkage Fee—both of which were recently implemented. Additionally, policies such as the Permanent Supportive Housing and Interim Motel Conversion Ordinances provide pathways to housing homeless individuals and families, as directed by Goal 4 ("Ending and Preventing Homelessness") of the current Housing Element. When a new program, project, or idea is considered, the Housing Element provides guidance for decision makers to evaluate the proposal. 

What is the relationship to other Elements of the General Plan? 

The Housing Element must remain consistent with the other elements of the General Plan. The City of Los Angeles is working to comprehensively update all elements of the General Plan, starting with the Housing Element.

Timeline (click image to enlarge)


The City is continuously considering new ways to safely conduct outreach in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some events that were originally planned to be held in person may be transitioned to a digital format. Check the News page for updates on current engagement activities.

Email List 

The best way to hear about major milestones and opportunities to shape the Housing Element Update is to join the email list. 

Share Your Feedback

During this update, the City will offer several opportunities to share feedback, both in person and online. Check the News page to see current and upcoming outreach events.

Request A Meeting 

If you represent a large group or coalition interested in housing policy, the Housing Element team may be able to present to your group. Please email your request to HousingElement@lacity.org. Please note that our team is limited, and not all requests can be granted.

Contact Us 

For general inquiries about the Housing Element Update, please email HousingElement@lacity.org

For press and media inquiries, please email planning.media@lacity.org 

Please contact the members of the Citywide Housing Policy team with any other questions: 

Matthew Glesne: matthew.glesne@lacity.org

Blair Smith: blair.smith@lacity.org

Ari Briski: ari.briski@lacity.org  

Cally Hardy: cally.hardy@lacity.org  

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 1:39 PM

Task Force Kick-off Meeting

On Wednesday, January 22, the City hosted the kick-off meeting of the Housing Element Task Force. Los Angeles City Planning Director Vince Bertoni and Housing + Community Investment Department General Manager Rushmore Cervantes opened the meeting by welcoming the Task Force members, who represent a range of diverse perspectives and expertise.
Wed, 12/04/2019 - 7:37 AM

Task Force: Application Window Now Closed

Thank you to everyone who applied to join the 2021-2029 Housing Element Task Force. We are thrilled to have received over 280 applications, a clear indication of how important housing policy is within our region. Staff will work to review submissions and share final decisions by the end of the year. The number of positions on the task force is limited; however, those who are not selected will be able to participate and provide guidance through other engagement opportunities that will take place alongside the work of the Task Force. We will be sharing more details in the coming months.

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 7:39 AM

Task Force: Open Call for Applications

The City of Los Angeles is embarking on the 2021-2029 update to the Housing Element of the General Plan. The Housing Element identifies Los Angeles’s housing needs and establishes clear goals and objectives. Los Angeles has led the way in adopting creative solutions to produce both market rate and affordable housing, but we still have a long way to go to fully address the housing crisis. The Housing Element is our opportunity to tackle Los Angeles’s housing needs through meaningful and effective policies.