Developer Incentive Programs

HCD offers two types of incentives to developers who wish to construct new affordable housing units: Density Bonus and the Low Cost Financing for the Development of Affordable Housing.

The Density Bonus Program allows housing developers to build more units on a property than are otherwise permitted, provided that a certain percentage of the total number of the additional units are reserved for low- or moderate-income households. The County of San Diego has four specific density bonus policies.

  • State Density Bonus Law allows from a 20 percent up to a 35 percent increase in the number of housing units with the requirement that for the next thirty years, at least:
    • 5 percent of total units be reserved for very low-income households; or
    • 10 percent of total units be reserved for low-income households; or
    • A senior citizen housing development, as allowed under existing law.
  • Affordable Housing for the Elderly (Policy I-79) targets senior citizens requiring that all units house elderly households with 35 percent of total units reserved for very low-income elderly households. Although the increase in the number of allowable units is negotiated on a case-by-case basis, this policy allows up to 45 units per acre within designated areas.
  • Mobile-home Park Density Bonus (Policy 3.8) permits mobile home park developments a density of up to 8 units per acre within and beyond established urban service areas.
  • Housing for Lower Income Families (Policy I-88) allows the development of low-income housing with up to 20 units per acre in designated areas, provided that all of the units are affordable to low-income families

The County administers the Density Bonus program in the unincorporated area of San Diego County and a few smaller cities. Check income limits for eligibility.

Call Planning and Development Services at (858) 694-2262 for information on the Density Bonus Program and the application form.

Call Marco De La Toba at (858) 694-8724 or Myrna Manaloto at (858) 694-4825 for information on existing Density Bonus housing agreements.


The County of San Diego also provides affordable housing developers with low-cost financing opportunities through the Notice of Funding Availability Program (NOFA). The NOFA process facilitates construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of affordable multifamily rental housing for very-low and low-income households by providing gap financing at rates below those charged by commercial lending institutions.  HCD expects its loans to be leveraged with other resources that may include private equity loans loans from lending institutions; funds from federal, state or local programs, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Tax-Exempt Multi-family Housing Revenue Bonds, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Senior Preservation Rental Assistance Contracts, or the State of California’s Multi-family Housing Program, Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, or Veteran Housing and Homeless Prevention Program.