Community Development

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Housing Element is one required element or chapter of the City’s General Plan. The Housing Element provides an assessment of the City’s housing needs and how best to accommodate those housing needs. State Law requires that all cities in California accommodate their share of the regional housing need for households of all income levels. Additionally, the State mandates that land use plans and policies facilitate the construction of housing for a range of income levels and do not unduly constrain housing development.
Housing Elements are a mandatory part of the General Plan in California because providing housing for all Californians is of vital statewide importance. The state requires that jurisdictions update their Housing Elements every eight years in order to adequately plan for meeting the community’s housing needs and monitor progress in achieving housing production goals. The upcoming update, the 6th Cycle of the Housing Element for 2021-2029, is underway and the updated Element is required to be adopted by City Council and submitted for approval to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by Fall 2021.

In this update cycle, unlike past years, the City has to provide a more detailed roadmap of how the Housing Element will meet our RHNA allocation by income level. The Housing Element must be completed and compliant with State law by the deadline in order to avoid penalties, such as fines and the loss of transportation and affordable housing funding.

The Regional Housing Needs Assessment or RHNA, is a state mandate set by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) which determines the total number of new housing units needed for each region in California. The City of Long Beach is a member of the six-county Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region, which includes the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial. SCAG, as the regional planning body, is responsible for distributing the RHNA among its member cities and counties, so that each City and County is accommodating its share of the regional need. The RHNA allocation for the overall region and for each jurisdiction, including Long Beach, is broken down into four income levels - very low, low, moderate, and above moderate. Each jurisdiction must demonstrate in its Housing Element that, through its land use policies and zoning capacity, it can accommodate its total RHNA number as well as the allocation by income level. The bar chart below demonstrates that more than half, 57%, of the total housing units must be affordable units. In particular, 27% of total housing units must be for households with the greatest need, i.e. whose incomes are below 50% of area median income (AMI).

The City is required to facilitate the production of housing that is affordable to households across various income levels. These income categories are defined by the state and are based on varying percentages of the Area Media Income (AMI), in which earning 30% of AMI is considered extremely low income, 50% of AMI is considered very low income. 80% of AMI is considered low income and between 80-120% is considered moderate income. For each income category, housing is considered “affordable” if occupants pay no more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

The chart below shows 2020 income limits and affordable rents for a family of four in LA County as set by the State.

Updating the Housing Element is not only legally required, but it helps the City comprehensively update housing policies and strategies to address the growing housing crisis in Long Beach. The Housing Element will provide the framework and guidance on how to address housing policies within the City. An updated Housing Element benefits City residents by:

  • Documenting the demand for housing and planning for future housing needs.
  • Identifying strategies for preserving existing affordable housing, increasing housing production and improving the quality of housing.
  • Developing strategies for providing supportive housing for seniors, veterans and other special needs residents.
  • Improving renter protections and instituting strategies to help minimize displacement. 
  • Offering assistance to residents such as rehabilitation loans and grants.
  • Promoting fair housing.
The Housing Element is one of twelve chapters within the Long Beach General Plan and is the only Long Beach General Plan Element required to be updated every eight years. The updated Housing Element will build upon the other chapters outlined in the General Plan and identify housing policies and programs that are consistent with the goals and objectives of the entire General Plan.

In addition to updating the Housing Element, the General Plan is required by State law to be updated periodically. Long Beach recently adopted a revised Land Use Element and an Urban Design Element to guide the development of the City over the next 20 years. For more information, please visit,

For more information on other related ongoing Long Beach planning and housing policies, please visit,
Please sign-up for our email list to be notified of opportunities for community engagement. We will be hosting virtual workshops, focus groups, community listening sessions, surveys, and capacity building activities focused on communities most impacted by the housing crisis, as well as other opportunities for engagement and education beginning summer 2020. If you would like more information or to request a presentation for your organization, please send us an email at



Many of the components within the Housing Element Update are determined by State law, and include reviewing and revising the current Housing Element; determining housing needs; identifying constraints to housing production, including resource and land use constraints; and developing goals and policies as well as programs to implement them.

In the current housing and economic climate, a major focus of the Housing Element will be on removing barriers to housing production to counter well-documented housing shortages; addressing homelessness; and ensuring the availability and fair distribution of affordable housing throughout the City to reverse existing patterns of segregation and concentrated poverty.

For the latest information on the Housing Element Update, subscribe to LinkLB Community Development – Long Beach General Plan Updates and follow @LongBeachBuilds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.