Stop me if you've heard this one before: "Developers in my city are only building luxury housing. They're not building anything that ordinary people can afford."
This is a common lament in the tense debates over growth and development in many North American cities. Sometimes, the observation is made simply to call attention to the need for housing that's affordable to those across the income spectrum.
It may also, however, be used as an argument against market-rate housing development. “It's not going to help the people who truly need help," say those who favor maintaining strict local limits on the use, height, and intensity of development, to those who would relax such limits. If only well-to-do people who can already afford nice homes will benefit from new construction, why risk your community's character and stability and quality of life just to let developers make more money?
This notion that development's benefits accrue only to the well-off can engender a sort of defeatism among affordable housing advocates. Those who might stand to gain from additional investment in their neighborhoods aren't going to be motivated to come out and advocate forcefully for it if they don't think that they will be the beneficiaries.