ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Evictions have been on the rise nationally following the COVID-19 pandemic because many low-income families just can't pay rent.

Albemarle County is working on a solution. 

Since December, the county has been testing its Eviction Prevention Partnership (EPP), which can help connect people to the legal resources they need to fight an eviction procedure.

So far, nearly 160 evictions have been prevented, which the county says is good news.

Residents can now meet with someone from the Legal Aid Justice Center before going to eviction court.

This can help them avoid eviction with counsel for those facing evictions due to the loss of income or an increase in their expenses and can set them on a path to the county's rent relief program.

"Everyone has experienced challenges with COVID and financial challenges with COVID," said Philip Holbrook, of the Albemarle Housing Program. "And for lower income families, who are eligible for the eviction prevention partnership, they're potentially experiencing those financial hardships at a greater level."

The county says the program prioritizes mitigation efforts to get funds for landlords while keeping families in their homes.

There are low-income criteria that must be met and participants need to use rent-relief funds to settle their outstanding rental debt.

This program will run through June 2023 thanks to government funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

For more information, click here.