From one coast to the other, lower income people are suffering due to housing challenges created or worsened by the recession.

In Oakland, renters forced out of their homes when their landlords entered foreclosure are standing up for the rights of renters, and some are foregoing policy fixes altogether and occupying vacant homes. Meanwhile, the data make clear that in major cities nationwide, health care workers have a tough time affording market-rate housing.

Local efforts to ensure decent housing for all are important, but the influence of federal policy cannot be ignored. Organizations in Chicago are working hard to serve the housing needs of low income people, but gridlock and partisanship in Washington, D.C. has meant deep cuts to vital housing programs. For many, the Occupy movement is a rare beacon of hope amidst these unfathomable cuts.

While the economy has caused many Americans to feel the pain of poverty for the first time, the recession has only made worse a situation low income people have known for decades. In Connecticut, the Bridgeport Housing Authority has a waiting list for rental homes that at least equals the number of homes the authority manages. New public housing has not been built since the 1980s, leaving millions of poor families out in the cold.