An effective housing element provides the necessary conditions for developing and preserving an adequate supply of housing, including housing affordable to seniors, families, and workers. Because the housing element must be regularly revised according to a legally mandated schedule, the update process provides the opportunity for jurisdictions to update their housing and land-use strategies to reflect changing needs, resources, and conditions. For example, the housing element update can provide a mechanism to adopt efficient land-use strategies such as infill development, mixed-use development (e.g., housing on top of shopping, restaurants, or office space), or downtown revitalization. It can also provide a vehicle for local governments to adopt housing and land-use strategies that address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, promoting higher-density, infill housing for low-income workers or promoting housing along transit corridors, allowing more people to get out of their cars and use public transit.
As local governments begin to update their housing elements, they should keep the following in mind:
- Start with the existing housing element. The update should build on what has been effective in the past.
- Immediately engage all critical stakeholders in the community, including residents, special-needs populations, businesses, and housing providers.
- While the housing element must address specific state statutory requirements, it is ultimately a local plan and should reflect the vision and priorities of the community.