Before one brick is laid, developers, in most cases, have to examine whether the structure they want to build would damage the environment in any way. You can’t simply plop a block of condos down on a space if it would make it harder for certain native bird or plant species to live there. But what if those condos would make it harder for certain people native to that area to live there also, namely by reducing the level of existing affordable housing?
That’s the question behind new legislation popping up in cities where rental housing costs have spun out of control. Last month, New Orleans city council members introduced a bill requiring “affordable-housing impact statements” for any proposed ordinances or applications for new zoning or land use changes. The statements would force developers and government officials to first consider how new development might affect the availability of housing for low-income families.