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Draft Housing Element Public Review

The draft Housing Element is available for public review. The City of El Centro invites the public's comments and questions regarding the draft Housing Element. Comments are being requested to be submitted by September 3, 2021. Comments may be sent via e-mail to Angel Hernandez, Associate Planner at angel_hernandez@cityofelcentro.org, regular mail at Planning Division, City of El Centro, 1275 W. Main Street, El Centro, CA 92243. 

Housing Element Update

The Housing Element of the General Plan identifies El Centro’s housing needs and establishes clear goals and objectives to inform future housing decisions. This important effort will identify existing capacity and guide El Centro's housing policy creation and implementation from 2021 to 2029. The state requires that the Housing Element be updated every eight years, and that the Housing Element demonstrate the City has sufficient capacity to accommodate the number of housing units identified in the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). These frequent updates are a reflection of the vital role housing plays in ensuring the shared prosperity of our region. The City Planning Division and our consultants, Veronica Tam + Associates, are working together on the 2021-2029 Housing Element, a multi-year update that will help us address the growing housing challenges faced by our City. 


How can the public be involved in this process? 

The City met with developers/real estate professionals and fair housing providers/advocates to get feedback on their experience working with the City and identifying pros and cons of housing development and housing services.

A community meeting was was held on February 8th, 2021 and May 19th, 2021 both in person and via zoom. The presentations can be found below:

February 8th, 2021

May 19th, 2021

The success of this update requires extensive community input and engagement. There will be additional opportunities to participate throughout the update, both in person and online. Please sign up to be notified of the next meeting or opportunity for online input. 

Contact Planning Division Staff at ecplanning@cityofelcentro.org or 760-337-4545 to voice your opinions, ask questions or learn more.


Why update the Housing Element? 

California State law requires that local jurisdictions update the Citywide Housing Element every eight years. These frequent updates are required because housing is critical to ensure economic prosperity and quality of life in our region. The revised Housing Element must be adopted by the El Centro City Council and submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development Department no later than October 2021, or El Centro could lose eligibility for significant sources of funding currently provided by the State and the Imperial County region, including critical infrastructure and transportation funds.


What is included in a Housing Element?

The components of the Housing Element are largely dictated by the State. The following chapters must be included: 

  • A detailed analysis of the City’s demographic, economic and housing characteristics.
  • A comprehensive analysis of constraints to producing and preserving housing. 
  • A review of the City’s progress in implementing current housing policies and programs. 
  • An identification of goals, objectives, and policies, in addition to a full list of programs that will implement the vision of the plan. 
    A list of sites that could accommodate new housing, demonstrating the City’s ability to meet our 
    Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)

Because the Housing Element is updated frequently, the previous element provides a foundation for this update. This update gives us the opportunity to evaluate the previous element and determine which parts have been effective and which should be improved.


What is RHNA?

RHNA stands for “Regional Housing Needs Assessment.” Every eight years, the State of California provides the number of housing units that should be accommodated in the Southern California region. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) takes that larger number and devises a methodology to allocate the units among jurisdictions within the region. As a part of the Housing Element, El Centro must demonstrate to the State that there is available capacity for the units allocated to the City. For this planning cycle, the regional allocation is 15,956 new construction units, significantly larger than it has been in past years. Therefore, El Centro's share is much higher.  This large allocation was a result of the State responding to the housing crisis by considering both “projected need” (i.e., units we need to accommodate new residents) and “existing need” (i.e., units we need to alleviate challenges like overcrowding and homelessness). The allocation also takes affordability into account by identifying the percentage of units that are needed at each income level (very low, low, and moderate).

The exact RHNA allocation was released by SCAG in November 2019. The following represents El Centro's RHNA allocation.

Income Category



Extremely Low (0-30% of AMI) and Very low- (0-50% of AMI)



Other lower- (51-80% of AMI)



Moderate- (81-120% of AMI)



Above Moderate- (>120% of AMI)






Visit the SCAG's website for more information on RHNA and the RHNA allocation process. 


Does RHNA require us to build housing? 

Through the RHNA process, we must show that the City has the regulatory and land use policies to accommodate housing needs, but the actual development of housing is largely conducted by the private market. The Housing Element is required to demonstrate potential sites where housing can be accommodated. Identification of a site’s capacity does not guarantee that construction will occur on that site. If there are insufficient sites and capacity to meet the RHNA allocation, then the Housing Element is required to identify a rezoning program to create the required capacity. It is important to note that if we fall significantly behind on our RHNA targets, the City of El Centro could be deemed out of compliance and risk losing important sources of funding currently provided by the State.


How is the Housing Element implemented?

The Housing Element sets goals, objectives, policies, and programs that are implemented after the plan is adopted. When a new housing program, project, or idea is considered, the Housing Element provides guidance for decision makers to evaluate the proposal.


What is the relationship to other Elements of the General Plan? 

The Housing Element must remain consistent with the other elements of the General Plan.


Contact Us

For general inquiries about the Housing Element update, please email ecplanning@cityofelcentro.org.