San Mateo County 2014-2022 Draft Housing Element Update
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Housing Element?
The Housing Element is the main document that establishes the County's housing policies. It is intended to ensure that decent, safe, affordable shelter is provided for all residents in the unincorporated County.
Every city and county in California is required to have a Housing Element. State law defines the specific topics that must be covered. These include:
- An evaluation of existing housing policies and programs
- A needs assessment, based on data on demographics and housing conditions
- An analysis of any obstacles to affordable housing production in the community
- An inventory of all potential sites where housing may be constructed
- Goals, objectives, and policies, defining the community's position on various housing issues and setting measurable targets for meeting housing needs
- An action plan, identifying the specific steps the community will take to implement its housing policies
Once complete, the Element must be submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for certification.
The State does not require cities and counties to actually build the housing necessary to meet the community's needs. However, it does require that each community adopt policies and programs to support housing development, as well as designate adequate land at appropriate densities to meet the housing needs.
Additional information regarding State requirements can be found at:
Why update the Housing Element?
State Law requires periodic updates to the Housing Element. The 2009 Housing Element Update provides an opportunity to be forward thinking and strategic as we address housing needs in unincorporated San Mateo County. It is a chance for the County to articulate housing issues, take stock of its resources and opportunities, and engage in a meaningful discussion about San Mateo County's priorities.
Where can I find the County's current Housing Element?
The County's existing housing element, adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2012
What are the goals of the County's current Housing Element?
San Mateo County's current Housing Element established the following four goals:
- Maintain and improve quality and affordability of existing housing stock, in order to minimize the displacement of existing residents.
- Promote sufficient production of new housing, of affordable cost and diverse size to accommodate the housing needs of all persons who reside, work, or who can be expected to work or reside in the County.
- Provide housing near employment, transportation, and community services.
- Ensure equal access to housing for all persons regardless of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnic background, income, disability or other factors.
Over the last five years, the County has been implementing policies and actions designed to accomplish these goals.
Where can I learn about the County's existing housing programs?
San Mateo County provides numerous housing programs for residents including the home-sharing program, first time homebuyer programs, community development programs, affordable housing, and housing repair programs.
The following is a brief summary of County housing programs:
- Financial assistance for affordable housing development.
Community Development funding programs include: HOME (Investment Partnerships Program), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG).
- Rehabilitation of Existing Homes.
Housing rehabilitation programs are loan programs that include lending and technical assistance to low and very low income clients in order to repair and maintain their home. Investor owners who rent to low and very low income tenants can also receive assistance.
- First Time Homebuyer Programs.
First-time homebuyers receive guidance and assistance to purchase a home within San Mateo County.
- Homesharing Program.
HIP Housing, a non-profit organization that helps county residents create a place to call home, connects home providers with home seekers to pay rent, exchange services in lieu of rent, or a combination of the two.
A full description of existing housing programs is located here. http://www.co.sanmateo.ca.us/portal/site/housingdepartment
What is Affordable Housing?
Affordable housing refers to housing in which occupants pay no more than 30% of their incomes on the rent or mortgage payment. Affordable rental housing is typically targeted toward lower income households (those earning less than 80% of the area median income), while affordable owner-occupied housing is targeted toward low- or moderate-income households (those earning less than 120% of area median income).
Based on federal guidelines for 2009, a San Mateo County family of four earning $90,500 or less would be defined as low income. Monthly housing expenses of $2,262 or less would be considered affordable for that household.
How much housing does the unincorporated areas in the County need in the future?
To view ABAG's regional housing need allocation, click here.
Your input on the Housing Element update is important. For more information, contact
Department of Planning and Building
455 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063
San Mateo County Housing Department:
California Department of Housing and Community Development: