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Democratic Presidential Candidate Julian Castro Gets Firsthand Look at Bay Area's Housing Crisis

A Democrat aiming to get into the White House got an eye-opening look at the Bay Area's housing crisis.

Former Obama cabinet member Julian Castro visited East Oakland Wednesday, where he toured a growing homeless camp and spoke one-on-one with the people who call it home.

Castro was in the diverse Fruitvale neighborhood, home to Oakland's Hispanic community. While the topic of immigration did come up, the focus was on affordable housing and the lack of it in the East Bay.

"We need to put more resources into creating housing for people that need it," Castro said.

A swarm of cameras and reporters followed the former secretary of housing and urban development as he ducked through fences, surrounded by heaps of trash and heard the stories of people like Markayla, who lives in the camp with her daughter.

"We need more low-income housing, not more high-priced housing," she said.

Castro responded: "I know that we have dire needs out there when it comes to housing the homeless. That's why I made this a priority in this campaign."

Castro's ambitious plan involves giving renters a tax credit to help with rising rents and expanding the housing voucher program to cover more struggling families. Castro says he hopes he gets asked about housing in the next presidential debate.

"This is a dire need for a lot of Americans and I hope that those moderators ask a question about what we would do as the next president to address it," he said.

But whether Castro makes it to the next debate is up in the air. The DNC announced tougher criteria that puts the former San Antonio mayor at risk of being shut out from the fifth debate in November.

In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Castro is trailing behind with just 1% of the vote.

"I'm working very hard to make sure that I'm good for the next debate in November," Castro said.

After his Oakland visit, Castro headed across the Bay to San Francisco, where he is taking part in a Latino heritage celebration with Mayor London Breed.

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