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  • Photo: Jeff Gunn

PORTLAND RESIDENT Caroline Sojourner signed a lease last year for $750 a month. On August 1, when it's time to renew, that price will jump to $1,087.

Sojourner can't afford the $337 a month increase, and says she's been sick with worry that she's going to have to move from her Brooklyn neighborhood apartment.

"I'm not the only one this is happening to," she says. "It looks like if I stay in Portland, I'm going to have to move every year because of the constantly rising rents."

Sojourner's not one of the twentysomethings flocking to Portland from California or out East; she's a senior citizen who receives help with her rent via housing vouchers from Home Forward, the agency overseeing public housing for Multnomah County. In this hot market, that help often isn't enough for those struggling to pay their bills.

Shelley Marchesi, a spokesperson for Home Forward, says the program has paths to help people in situations similar to Sojourner's—but as rents skyrocket, many Portlanders who are without safety nets are losing their homes because, as the saying goes, the rent is too damn high.

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