Irvine Is Required to Help Meet The State’s Low Income Housing Needs. What Is Irvine’s Share?

Every 8 years, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HUD) determines the affordable housing needs for the state based on new growth projections and the existing need for housing. The state is divided into regions with each region being assigned a specific number of affordable housing units to construct. Irvine is located in the Southern California region which is made up of 191 cities, 6 counties, and 1 tribal government area. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) determines how the region’s assigned numbers are to be assigned within the region. Affordable housing unit assignments are divided up into the following categories:

  • Very low income
  • Low income
  • Moderate income
  • Above moderate income

SCAG has reportedly eliminated the “above moderate income” housing classification and has distributed these numbers between the lower income classifications.

In October 2020, HUD’s 6th cycle for the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) distribution assigned 1,344,740 units to SCAG. The next step for SCAG is to finalize the methodology for determining the distribution to the government entities within its jurisdiction. Under SCAG’s recommended methodology, Irvine is predicting that it will be assigned 20,700 affordable housing units. The methodology for determining the housing assignments includes determination of:

  1. The amount of acreage within the jurisdiction of the government entities
  2. Job accessibility (job availability) and transit options to commute to jobs
  3. Share of future population growth indicating future housing needs

The City of Irvine has objections to the distribution methodology, including:

  1. The total acreage of accessible land should be a determining factor rather than total acreage since much of Irvine’s land is not accessible for development due to being permanently protected open space, flood channels, and local parkland.
  2. Irvine has few job centers and thus Irvine household members have jobs in multiple cities other than Irvine.
  3. Irvine has transportation infrastructure deficits.
  4. It is the number of future households rather than the size of the future population that determines housing needs.

Note: On 11/7/19 the Planning Commission chose to refer the SCAG RHNA number assignment to the City Council with the recommendation that the City Council do everything within its power, including legal action, to make sure that the RHNA assignment “does not happen”.