Increased Evictions in Fresno County

July 30, 2008 10:01:39 PM PDT
The weak economy is increasing the workload for the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.Deputies conduct an average of 3-thousand evictions a year but that number has increased about 25-percent in recent months due to foreclosures. It's a risky job when tenants or previous home-owners, just don't want to go.

"Are you the owner? Okay."

Deputies Melanie Hathaway and Sheri Edmonds are part of the Fresno County Sheriff's "Eviction Beat."

" ... Sheriff's office, lockout ... "

Guns drawn, the deputies enter this apartment in southeast Fresno making sure no one is hiding inside.

An attack on a Sheriff's Deputy serving an eviction in Tulare County last week is a reminder to be extra cautious.

Melanie Hathawayz: "I could see how something like that could happen because these evictions are dangerous situations? we never know what's behind that door."

Today, the tenant here is cooperative...

"I never went thru this before."

"My rent was slow but they said we had too much traffic and stuff so we had to go."

Evictions begin at 6-oclock in the morning for Edmonds and Hathaway.

Sheri Edmonds: "We go in there and make sure that these people understand that we're not a part of this action-- we're just here to do a job."

It's the final step after a months-long process to get residents and tenants to leave on their own.

Sheri Edmonds: "Sometimes they do get violent ... some will approach with bald fist."

Any indication of trouble ... And the deputies call for back-up.

"Sheriff's Department lock out!"

These people had been living in this run-down home off Kings Canyon Blvd 'rent-free' since the owner passed away 9 years ago.

Sheri Edmonds: "She's out. She's going to have to find other means of living. She's no longer allowed here without the permission of the county ... "

The Sheriff's Department conducts about 15-20 evictions a day ... at least 25-percent of those evictions are now on foreclosed homes.

Melanie Hathawayz: "These are young families a lot ... this is their first house and having to evict them; that's real sad."

But this is what deputies often find inside.

"They'll just basically rip the house apart ... "

Deputies say people sometimes take out their anger and frustration on the home. And this is not the worse they've seen.

Sheri Edmonds: "It's happening to a lot people ... even people that's been living in their house for years and they just don't want to part ways with their house."

Animals are also being impacted by these foreclosures and evictions. Deputies say since people being evicted often have no place to go ... many times they're forced to leave pets behind.

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