NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Inside rental homes and apartments across Hampton Roads, there are hundreds of families living on the edge of eviction.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently issued an appeal to the legal community to help with the affordable housing and eviction crisis. The Regent University School of Law is now answering that call in Hampton Roads by starting an Eviction Diversion Initiative.

Regent Law Clinic Director Kathleen McKee oversees the initiative, which is taking referrals from Legal Aid.

“My concern is, with the referrals that have already been made to us, at least 65% of those households have children in them,” McKee told WAVY. “The easiest way to put custody of your children in jeopardy is to become homeless, we’re not going to allow people to be living in their vans,” she said.

Since August, McKee says Legal Aid has helped around 600 struggling renters who qualify for free legal assistance. “Childcare may be a variable, but increased food costs, increased utility costs is also going to make some households struggle,” she said.

Through the initiative, the Regent clinic has just hired a new full-time law fellow, Ilinka Robinson, a recent Regent Law School graduate. Robinson will help renters file for rent relief funds, negotiate with landlords and she can defend them in court if needed.

“It is overwhelming because a lot of people need help and I want to help everybody,” Robinson told WAVY.

She and McKee will call on third year law students at Regent to assist with some of it, but they are appealing to local attorneys as well.

“To help and serve and give some pro bono,” Robinson said.

“It’s just a very difficult time in people’s lives and I think it doesn’t deal with the root cause of it, but I think it is a time to demonstrate we have a sense of community,” McKee added.

If you are facing eviction or need help with rent, or if you’re an attorney who can help contact Legal Aid online or call (757) 627-5423.