Apple has joined other high-tech giants in a commitment to help alleviate a problem partially of their own making.   On Monday, the Cupertino, California firm announced a $2.5 billion plan to help address the housing availability and affordability crisis in Northern California. The company said that costs have skyrocketed for renters and potential homebuyers and, as a result, community members like teachers, firefighters, first responders and service workers are increasingly having to make the difficult choice to leave behind the community they have long called home.   While affordability is becoming a problem in many areas, the large numbers of highly paid professionals employed in the Bay Area have driven prices especially high. 

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