Cities and counties in California are required to plan for adequate housing across income affordability levels. Most are doing so — but many fewer are meeting their goals to actually get those homes built.
The Southern California News Group has graded every jurisdiction on the progress it’s making toward those state-mandated housing goals.
Through a process known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA, each jurisdiction is given a target for how many permits to issue in four categories: very low income (affordable to those who earn half or less of the area’s median income), low income (51-80% of median), moderate income (81-120% of median) and above moderate income (more than 120% of median).
SCNG’s grades are based on how close jurisdictions are to being on track through the end of 2018 — the latest data available from annual progress reports that they’re supposed to file to the state — depending on how far they are into their current RHNA cycle.
Most of Southern California is in a RHNA cycle that runs from late 2013 to late 2021. So a city that is supposed to permit 80 low-income homes by 2021 would need to have issued at least 50 permits by 2018 to be fully on track. If it had issued 25, it would be 50% on track.
Here’s how each category grade was assigned:
- 100% or better on track = A / 4 points
- 75-99% on track = B / 3 points
- 50-74% on track = C / 2 points
- 1-49% on track = D / 1 point
- 0 units built = F / 0 points
Bonus points could be earned for prioritizing what’s needed most, showing improvement and degree of difficulty:
- Jurisdictions got a 1-point bonus for being at least 90% on track in each of the lower-income categories, and a half-point bonus for being at least 90% on track in the moderate category.
- Jurisdictions got a half-point bonus if they weren’t fully on track in a category but improved their score by at least 25 percentage points from 2017.
- Jurisdictions asked to increase their total housing stock by at least 10% over their 2013 levels got a half-point bonus for being at least 50% on track and a full point for being fully on track.
The overall grade comes from adding up the category scores and bonus points, then dividing by the number of categories (not always four; a few weren’t asked to permit any at higher income levels). The grade-point averages corresponded to these letter grades:
- A+: 4.33 or higher
- A: 4-4.32
- A-: 3.67-3.99
- B+: 3.33-3.66
- B: 3-3.32
- B-: 2.67-2.99
- C+: 2.33-2.66
- C: 2-2.32
- C-: 1.67-1.99
- D+: 1.33-1.66
- D: 1-1.32
- D-: 0.67-0.99
- F: below 0.67
Some caveats: Since some jurisdictions didn’t report their progress to the state by this year’s deadline (and some have never filed a report), they could be doing better than their grades reflect.
Also, the state data that the scorecard is based on may not reflect changes in housing goals due to annexations.