By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4)– One of the biggest challenges to the population boom in the Denver metro area is a lack of affordable housing. The price of rent is skyrocketing and that’s leaving some out on the streets.

Gerry was once facing eviction and the prospect of becoming homeless.

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“I didn’t know what to do or where to go and I didn’t have any money.”

Luckily, he called a lawyer and was able to stay in his home.

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Gerry (credit: CBS)

Denver City Council Member Robin Kniech says families ending up homeless after an eviction is becoming more common in Denver.

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“Homelessness can look different for families. Sometimes it means you are on the couch of a friend who doesn’t really have the space for you, or sometimes you’re moving really far away and doubling up. Sometimes you’re in shelters and sometimes unfortunately you’re on the street. No matter where you’re homeless it’s not good for your family, and it’s not good for the city,” said Kniech.

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In an effort to keep people in their homes, the Denver City Council and Colorado Legal Services came together to launch the Denver Eviction Legal Defense Pilot.

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Kniech says the pilot has a very clear goal, “To provide two attorneys, a paralegal that will now be present here in the courthouse Monday through Friday from 8:30 in the morning until noon providing legal assistance to those with low incomes who might not otherwise get a lawyer.”

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The $130,000 fund will be used to pay for legal help for the most vulnerable of Denver’s renters if they are facing eviction.

Kniech says talking to a lawyer can give you big advantage, “In many cases if you have an attorney they are able to help you argue your case in an effective way.”

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Kniech notes that landlords almost always have legal representation in evictions.

“This is about leveling the playing field.”

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Gerry thinks having access to a lawyer and their expertise will help people who are the verge of eviction, and he has advice for those who are thinking about going it alone.

“Don’t try it on your own. Try to get free legal help,” said Gerry.

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The City of Denver is hoping this pilot program will help people avoid homelessness. If it does, they will be looking for a way to make the program permanent.

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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