November 30, 2011; Source: The Washington Post | To the delight of retailers and Wall Street, Americans are spending again. Thousands lined up overnight to take advantage of Black Friday bargains. Cyber Monday posted double digit gains over last year.

The nation’s capital witnessed another kind of queue. Hundreds of Washingtonians lined up overnight Monday in hopes of securing a deal—a roof over their heads.

People started lining up early Monday evening to get on the waiting list for Hubbard Place, a recently renovated 230-unit apartment complex. There were far more on queue—which stretched for three blocks by Tuesday morning—than the hundred spots on the waiting list.

Katherine Felder and others like her suffered the cold rainy night for the chance to get one of the 10 units that would become available. Felder, who lost her apartment this year and has been staying with relatives, told the Washington Post, “I don’t have anywhere to stay. I’m cold, wet and soaked to the bone, soaked from my head to my toes. Cold, cold, cold. Haven’t slept all night.” She stayed put, not only for her sake, but for the two toddlers under her care, her granddaughters.

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute reports that the housing market boom of the past decade contributed to the growing affordable housing crisis for low- and moderate-income residents. Rapid gentrification, while instrumental to the city’s revitalization, has also facilitated the problem. Buildings are rising all over the District, but they are mostly for affluent residents.

While the economy appears to be on the mend, millions of Americans continue to struggle to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. A 42-inch flat-screen high-definition television for less than $200 is not on the top of their holiday wish list.—Erwin de Leon