While housing construction increased over the past decade, production in recent years continues to lag behind the rates reached during the 2000s.
In the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, housing production reached historic lows in 2010 with only 7,000 units produced. A decade later, production had more than doubled to nearly 17,000 units in 2020. Throughout the latter half of the 2010s, demand for housing in the Bay Area grew along with high rates of job creation and ensuing population growth. However, housing construction in 2021 was still below the production rates achieved in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This reflects that the region has not been producing the housing needed to keep up with demand, a consistent trend over the past several decades that has resulted in a generally constrained housing supply.
Between 1990 and 2010, single-family homes represented the majority of units constructed every year. Between 2011 and 2021, the trend reversed, with multi-family housing representing the majority of units constructed annually. In 2021, multi-family housing represented 75% of all units constructed, totaling over 17,000 units.
of housing units produced in 1990 were multi-family homes, compared with 75% in 2021
Historical Trend for Housing Production
In 2021, a majority of the region’s housing production consisted of multi-family properties in Santa Clara, Alameda and San Francisco counties.
The vast majority of the region’s housing construction takes place in San Francisco and the region’s two largest counties, Alameda and Santa Clara. In 2021, 68% of units constructed in the Bay Area were built in these three counties, and 89% of these units were multi-family housing. This trend is likely due in part to the demand for rental housing near job centers in the region’s three largest cities and Silicon Valley. Throughout most of the region, multi-family housing represented the majority of units constructed in 2021. However, single-family housing still comprises most units constructed in Contra Costa, Solano and Sonoma counties.
Natural disasters have definitively shaped the state of housing production at the local level. Wildfires in recent years have affected communities across the region, particularly in the North Bay. Housing production in the Bay Area is still recovering from the loss of thousands of homes in recent years. In fact, Napa County had a net loss of around 300 housing units in 2020, driven by a loss of nearly 600 single-family homes due to impacts from wildfires.
In 2021, 68% of housing units constructed in the Bay Area were constructed in Santa Clara, Alameda and San Francisco counties
Housing Production by City and Unincorporated Area by Decade
Sources & Methodology
Single-family housing units include single detached units and single attached units. Multi-family housing includes two to four units and five plus or apartment units.
Housing production data for the region, counties, and cities for each year is the difference of annual housing unit estimates from the California Department of Finance. Housing production data for metropolitan areas for each year is the difference of annual housing unit estimates from the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program. CA Department of Finance data uses an annual cycle between January 1 and December 31, whereas U.S. Census Bureau data uses an annual cycle from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.