CSAC Bulletin Article

HCD Begins Process to Adopt Emergency Regulations for Prohousing Designation Program

June 10, 2021

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) released emergency regulations to implement the Prohousing Designation Program authorized by the 2019-20 Budget Act. AB 101 (Committee on Budget, 2019) tasked HCD with designating jurisdictions as “Prohousing” when they demonstrate policies and strategies to accelerate housing production. In turn, Prohousing jurisdictions will be awarded additional points or preference in grant programs, such as the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities, Transformative Climate Communities, and Infill Incentive Grant programs. 

In November 2019, CSAC submitted comments in response to HCD’s Prohousing Policies Framework Paper, which included initial proposed approaches to implement the Prohousing Designation Program. In our comments, we raised the following key issues:

  • Expressed concerns with requiring jurisdictions to use limited general funds to support affordable housing as a threshold requirement for receiving the designation, and
  • Requested sufficient flexibility so all community types could fairly receive the designation.

The emergency regulations appear to be flexible enough to allow many types of local jurisdictions to achieve the designation. CSAC is concerned, however, that the regulations appear to require direct financial subsidies of affordable housing projects in order to achieve the designation. While many counties help subsidize affordable housing with limited local funds, it may be difficult for counties with limited budgets or lower tax bases to meet this requirement.

In order to achieve the prohousing designation, jurisdictions must meet basic threshold requirements related to compliance with the Housing Element Law and other state housing laws and demonstrate actions worth at least 30 points spread across each of four categories: favorable zoning and land use, acceleration of housing production timeframes, reduction of construction and development costs, and providing financial subsidies. Two of the categories explicitly include flexible options to earn points for non-listed actions that help achieve the stated goal.

Upon completion of the emergency regulations, HCD will issue a call for applications and deploy comprehensive statewide technical assistance to support jurisdictions in applying to be Prohousing jurisdictions. The Prohousing Designation Program will be established and effective through emergency regulations and then go through a public process to become regular regulations over the next year.

As these will be emergency regulations pursuant to Government Code 65589.9, they will be posted on HCD’s website for 5 business days, then delivered to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for administrative review for at least 10 business days. Once approved by OAL, the regulations will be active, and that will begin a process over the next year of converting the regulations through the normal rulemaking process, including a public comment period where HCD will solicit feedback on this program. 

Please click on the links below for documents related to the Prohousing Designation Program

For questions related to the Prohousing Designation Program, please contact ProhousingPolicies@hcd.ca.gov.

In addition to tracking the development of the emergency regulations, CSAC is also engaged in conversations on AB 215 (Chiu), which would require jurisdictions with relatively low progress towards meeting their regional housing needs to have a mid-cycle housing element consultation with the Department of Housing and Community Development and adopt pro-housing policies. We have taken an “oppose” position on this measure and have expressed concerns with mandating local governments to achieve HCD’s designation as a prohousing jurisdiction and an additional mid-cycle housing element review process that will be targeted mostly at jurisdictions with weaker economies.

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