Housing Accessibility

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. 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 2021 U.S. Census American Community Survey illustrates Marin's homeowner vacancy rate at 0.4% and rental vacancy rate at 2.3%. Of the 9 Bay Area counties, Marin holds the lowest rental and homeowner vacancy rates, which further exacerbate the difficulty in accessing housing, and especially affordable housing.
Housing costs remain prohibitive for many workers who wish to live and work in the same Marin community. 
The lower inventory of available housing contributes 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 a goal set by the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department of California, also called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). This cycle runs every eight years, and the current cycle (5th cycle) runs from January 2015 to January 2023. Housing must be produced at the following income levels, related to the region's median income. In 2022, a household of four earning $149,100 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. 2022 represented the last year in the 5th RHNA cycle. The County reached all four metrics.
The graph below shows that the production of very-low income units grew from 13% in 2015 to 100% in 2022, hitting our target.
The graph below shows that the production of low-income units grew from 19% in 2015 to 194% in 2022, hitting our target by a considerable margin.
The graph below shows that the production of moderate-income units grew from 8% in 2015 to 108% in 2022, hitting our target.
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 369% by the end of the cycle.

5th Cycle Units Produced by Income Level

The graph to the left indicates the total number of units produced by income category, against the final goals for the 5th cycle RHNA.
For very-low income units, the 55 unit goal has been met. For low-income units, 62 units have been produced, 30 above the the 32 unit goal. For moderate-income units, 40 units have been produced, exceeding the 37 unit goal. For above-moderate units, 225 have been produced, exceeding the 61 unit goal by 164. To view the progress of all California jurisdictions, visit the State's Data Dashboard.

6th Cycle Update

Cover page of the 2023-2031 Marin County Housing Element.
Beginning Summer 2021, the County has been engaging with the community to work on the 6th cycle Housing Element update, which identifies a RHNA of 3,569 units for unincorporated Marin over the subsequent eight-year cycle (2023-2031).
On January 24, 2023, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt the 2023-2031 Housing Element. On June 19, 2023, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) certified Marin's Housing Element.
Learn more about this process by visiting www.marincounty.org/housingelement

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.
  • Measure W - Measure W Community Housing Funds: portion of revenue from the Measure W Transient Occupancy Tax approved by voters in November 2018 that sets an additional 4% tax on short-term rentals in the Measure W Tax Area of West Marin.
  • PLHA - Permanent Local Housing Allocation: non-competitive state funds from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
  • LHTF - Local Housing Trust Fund: competitive state funds from the California Department of Housing and Community Development intended to match commitments made by local Housing Trust Funds.
The graph below illustrates that Marin has steadily increased the number of units of affordable housing funded from 2015 to 2022, through acquisition, new development, rehabilitation, and/or conversion. In 2015, 124 units (13 new development, 91 rehabilitated, and 20 acquired) were funded. In 2022, 499 units (235 new development, 15 rehabilitated, 205 acquired and 43 converted) were funded. This represents an 302% increase in units funded in this timeframe.

Despite a drop in both funding and units in 2017, the funding allocated towards development and rehabilitation of affordable housing has increased 788% from 2015 to 2022 ($2.3 million to $20.7 million).  This has resulted in the funding of a total of 1,468 units (585 new development, 473 rehabilitated, 264 acquired and 146 converted).
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 $15 million in 2022. Measure W funding begins in 2020 with $221,810 and increased since, with a high of $1,024,000 in 2021. PLHA funding begins in 2020 with $689,292 and increases in 2021 to over $1 million. In 2022, the County received a competitive LHTF award for approximately $3.2 million.
For more information, visit www.marincounty.org/housing