California's Sacramento County recently enacted one of the most stringent affordable housing ordinances in the country, designating 15 percent of all construction (both for-sale and for-rent) for low- and moderate-income residents.

While the final requirements weren't as tough as originally proposed, many Sacramento developers still aren't happy.

“I don't think it was necessary for the county to take on inclusionary requirements for extremely low-income households,” says Steve Eggert, a co-owner of St. Anton Partners, a Sacramento-based developer that does some affordable housing. “I think it transfers the cost of those units unfairly to land owners. I think the extremely low-income households are a social problem, not a housing problem.”

Peggy Jones of the Nehemiah Corporation of America, a Sacramento nonprofit that supported the new regulations, thinks such requirements help both poor and working families. The new rules set distinct minimum availability standards for three low-income levels.

“People need safe, decent, affordable housing,” says Jones, Nehemiah's director of community development. “When it gets to a state of affairs where a firefighter or a police officer or a schoolteacher can't afford a place to live near where they work, how is your region being served in any way?”