Empowered By Orange County United Way

Now Is The Time to Champion Permanent Supportive Housing

Did you know that Orange County cities are currently putting together an 8-year roadmap, known as the Housing Element, for the development of new housing in each city? 

The Housing Element is part of the city’s guiding General Plan and serves as a direct policy guide to address current and future housing needs. Mandated by the state for the 2021-2029 planning period, it includes how many very-low income and low income housing units must be developed within a city over the next 8 years. 

So what does this mean? Well, in simple terms: Now is the time to champion more permanent supportive and affordable housing.  

Permanent supportive housing is one of the key recommendations to combat homelessness (2017 UC Irvine Homelessness Cost Study). It is also one of the essential elements that our Housing Champions advocate for within their own cities – and there’s no better time than now. 

Planning for the Future 

Every 8 years, the California State Department of Housing and Community Development determines the housing needs of each city, and allots each county and city a number of housing that it must develop to address housing needs for very-low income, low income, moderate income, and above moderate income households. They then provide each area a Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) plan that includes the allotments of housing, which each county and city then vote on to adopt or appeal. 

On March 4, 2021, after the appeals process, the Southern California Association of Governments adopted the new RHNA plan for the period of 2021-2029.

Each city in Orange County must now develop their Housing Element by October 2021 to plan for how and where it will meet its RHNA allocations. 

The problem is that, while the purpose of the Housing Element is to ensure decent, safe, and sanitary housing for current and future residents, including special needs resident groups such as seniors, students, and others, it serves only as a plan. In some instances, cities may not be adequately addressing the challenges and needs for very-low and low income housing. That’s where our proactive advocacy comes in.

A Crucial Time for Housing Advocacy

Prior to the onslaught of COVID-19, one of the biggest challenges facing California was the housing and homelessness crisis. With the continuing economic impact of the pandemic, housing insecurity and homelessness in Orange County have only been exacerbated. And there remains a gaping need for more permanent supportive and affordable housing. 

If we want to get ahead of this crisis, we must ensure there are enough permanent supportive and affordable housing – and now is the best time to advocate for it. Orange County cities are developing their Housing Element right now, and they must adopt their plans by October 15, 2021.

This means we have a powerful opportunity this year to ensure more permanent supportive and affordable housing is suitably planned for in our cities through the Housing Element. And over the coming years, that these plans are implemented. 

It is a crucial time for community members like you to get involved in your city to:

  • Advocate for more permanent supportive and affordable housing and have a voice in how your community develops over the years.
  • Work with your community to plan for very-low and low income housing.
  • And hold your city accountable.

If you’d like to get involved but don’t know where to start, we recommend you join our next Housing Champions Advocacy 101 Online Workshop – find the latest dates here. At each workshop, we talk about the framework of housing advocacy and direct ways you can get involved.

If you have any questions, you can reach the Housing Advocacy team for United to End Homelessness at KimberlyA@unitedwayoc.org and CashR@unitedwayoc.org