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3 Sep, 2009 05:19

Repossessions soar in US as crisis continues unabated

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their homes every month because foreclosure rates have hit record highs due to the recession and many people cannot afford to pay their rent anymore.

“A lot of times you get in there and see just how the some of the living conditions are and you realize that, you know, these children are living in these conditions,” says Prince William County sheriff's department deputy John Zampino, whose job is to evict people from their homes.

Zampino supervises situations such as when the locks are changed, as well as telling the tenants of an apartment to leave.

“This apartment essentially turns into a temporary storage unit. You can't live here anymore,” he announces to a family with three children.

The family has 24 hours to come back and retrieve their belongings – if the owner of the building lets them. If not, they lose everything.

Even though Zampino’s job is tough, he says “I do not get depressed. I think we have a job to do, and we're going to do it and get the job done.”

As a father of three himself, Zampino says seeing the kids in these situations is the hardest part, because “our main concern is the children.”

The number of evictions in Prince William county of Virginia in the first month of this fiscal year almost equaled the number of evictions of a whole year not too long ago. Nevertheless, deputy Zampino says that he wants to make sure that the people who are leaving these homes have somewhere to go.

However, some of the people that have been evicted have nowhere to go, and many end up in homeless shelters.

In the recession, Zampino and his coworkers have seen a lot of desperate situations.

“I’ve evicted police officers before, believe it or not,” Zampino says.

First sergeant Prince William county sheriff's department Tony Sindlinger has been evicting people for twenty years and has seen it all:

“I handled an eviction where I went to evict a person out of an apartment and found them in the bed having apparently committed suicide.”

Zampino visits all kinds of apartments and houses, and sometimes his work has hit pretty close to home, but even he has a line that he is just not willing to cross.

“I just think it would have been wrong for me to walk down there and evict my neighbor that I’ve known for five years,” Zampino says.