Housing Production

Housing production in Marin County has generally been restricted or difficult to achieve for most housing types due to a history of community opposition in conjunction with stringent zoning and land use policies that restrict density. As a result, affordable housing opportunities in Marin are limited, and all housing types are in short supply countywide. The lack of housing options has led to an inequity in housing types and availability, and contributed to a growing displacement of the County's most vulnerable populations.

Marin Housing Facts

Marin ranks among the tightest housing markets in the Bay Area. 

Data from the 2019 U.S. Census American Community Survey illustrates Marin's homeowner vacancy rate at 0.6% and rental vacancy rate at 2.7%. Of the 9 Bay Area counties, Marin holds some of the lowest rental and homeowner vacancy rates, which only further exacerbate the difficulty in accessing housing in Marin.

Housing costs remain prohibitive for many workers who wish to live and work in the same Marin community. 

The lower inventory of available housing leads to increased pricing of the limited housing stock. The 2020 Marin County Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice illustrates that an annual household income of $220,000 is needed to afford the median home sales price of $1,046,450 in Marin with conventional financing. As a renter, an annual household income of $130,000 is needed to afford the median rent of an apartment of $3,268/month.
Data from the U.S. Census Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics demonstrates that 62% of Marin County workers live outside of the County and commute to work.

Affordable Housing Production

The development of affordable housing is necessary to address the increasing inaccessibility of living in Marin County.
Many houses on a beautiful Marin County hillside

Marin's Affordable Housing Production Progress

Cities and counties throughout the state of California must report the number of affordable units being produced against the goal set by the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department of California, also called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). This cycle runs every 8 years, and the current cycle runs from 2015 to 2023. Housing must be produced at the following income levels, related to the region's median income. In 2021, a household of four earning $146,350 annually or less in Marin County is considered low-income and would qualify for affordable housing.
  • Very-low income (30-50% of the area median income)
  • Low-income (50-80% of the area median income)
  • Moderate-income (80-120% of the area median income)
  • Above moderate-income (120% and above the area median income)
Below, you will find performance measures related to the number of housing units produced at each income level, against the housing goal for that income level set by HCD for the unincorporated regions of the County. 
These measures show the County's progress in proportion to where it is in the overall cycle (the end of 2021 represents 87% of the entire 2015-2023 cycle).
Regional Housing Needs Allocation cycle diagram shows that from 2015 to 2021, the County progressed 87.5% of the way toward the goal, ending in 2023.
The graph below shows that while the production of very-low income units grew from 13% in 2015 to 73% in 2021, we are still below the goal of 87%.
The graph below shows that the production of low-income units grew from 19% in 2015 to 134% in 2021, hitting our target.
The graph below shows that the production of moderate-income units grew from 8% in 2015 to 89% in 2020, near the goal of 87%.
The graph below shows that we are far above the goal for the production of above-moderate income units. We started with 38% in 2015, passed the 100% goal in 2017, and reached 348% by the end of 2021.

Overall Progress in Number of Affordable Housing Units Produced

The graph to the left indicates the total number of units produced by income category, against the final 2023 goal.
For very-low income units, 40 have been produced from the 55 unit goal. For low-income units, 43 have been produced from the 32 unit goal. For moderate-income units, 33 have been produced from the 37 unit goal. For above-moderate units, 212 have been produced from the 61 unit goal. To view the progress of all California jurisdictions, visit the State's Data Dashboard.

Funding Affordable Housing

For a number of years, County decision makers have made affordable housing a top priority, allocating available funding to support development and rehabilitation of housing wherever feasible. 
Artist rendering of the Victory Village affordable senior housing complex in Fairfax.
The main funding streams for affordable housing in Marin include the following:
  • CDBG - Community Development Block Grants, federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administered through the County of Marin
  • HOME - HOME Investment Partnerships, federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administered through the County of Marin
  • Housing - Housing Trust Fund, revenue from affordable housing impact fees, as well as General Fund contributions
  • PLHA - Permanent Local Housing Allocation, state funds from the California Department of Housing and Community Development
The graph below illustrates that Marin has steadily increased the number of units of affordable housing, newly developed and/or rehabilitated, from 2015 to 2021. In 2015, 10 new units and 57 rehabilitated units were funded. In 2021, 299 new units and 118 rehabilitated units were funded.

Despite a drop in both funding and units in 2017, the funding allocated towards development and rehabilitation of affordable housing has increased 78% from 2015 to 2021 ($2.3 million to $4.1 million).  This has resulted in the funding of a total of 529 new units, and 617 rehabilitated units.
CDBG funding has ranged from a low of $371,587 to a high of $1 million in that period. HOME funding has ranged between a low of $601,435 in 2017 and a high of $1.1 million in 2016. Housing funds have a large range with the lowest in 2017 ($110,000) and over $4 million in both 2018 and 2019. PLHA funding begins in 2020 with $689,292 and increases in 2021 to over $1 million.
For more information, visit www.marincounty.org/housing