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The Bay Area's Affordable Housing Crisis Is Only Getting Worse

A new report from the California Housing Partnership, an affordable housing non-profit, shows just how wide the gulf between Bay Area housing costs and wages has grown.

According to the report, workers in several Bay Area counties would need to earn four times the minimum wage to pay the median rent for an apartment. In Oakland, workers would have to make nearly $50 an hour to afford the median Alameda County rent of $2,553. To afford San Mateo County's median rent of $3,395, workers would have to make more than $65 an hour, which is close to six times the state minimum wage.

"This is a housing emergency," Matt Schwartz, the non-profit's president and chief executive officer, told the Mercury News.

The vast gap between wages and rental rates has a disproportionate effect on the lowest-income renters, who spend more than half of their income—and in some cases up to 70 percent—on housing.

The report also found that homelessness is on the rise all across the Bay Area, including increases of 36 percent in Alameda County and 47 percent in Sacramento County.

The California Housing Partnership recommends that the state put $1 billion of its budget surplus toward affordable rental housing, devote another $1 billion toward housing the homeless, and set aside at least $1 billion annually for "redevelopment funding for affordable housing and related infrastructure."

"Some of the budget surplus needs to be made immediately available to get the homeless off the streets and into affordable housing," Schwartz said.