Nov. 4, 2008, was historic. Newspapers called it "a new era" and "a new dawn" and even "a national catharsis." It was hailed as a racially and politically transformative day around the country, and the world, from Boston to London to Kenya to Australia.
"This is our moment," Barack Obama said on election night in Chicago.
Here in Pasco County, Nov. 4, 2008, also meant this: 32 more foreclosures were filed.
This, too, is our moment, and it brings language of a different, much more grounded sort: "There has been a default under the covenants, terms and agreements of the Note and Mortgage."
Public records and story archives and Google searches offer admittedly incomplete but still interesting glimpses into the lives of the people who own these 32 properties.
They're not serially greedy real estate investors who got caught holding mortgages they shouldn't have bought with loans that banks shouldn't have given in the first place.
Not by a long shot.
Most of them?
Turns out they're … us.
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Many say we're in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and at the center is what used to be one of the linchpins of the American Dream: home ownership.
Around the country, there are almost 4-million homes in foreclosure, by some estimates. In Florida, in the first six months of this year, more than a quarter-million foreclosures were filed. And in Pasco, in September alone, there were more than 1,100, according to RealtyTrac. Some 60 percent of all the homes bought in this county in the last five years are now in foreclosure.
Scroll down the civil filings on www.pascoclerk.com, any day, every day, and there they are. The plaintiffs make them easy to peg: U.S. Bank, Deutsche Bank, Chase Home Finance.
The 32 files from Nov. 4 are manila folders. On the outside are the case numbers. On the inside are the people's names.
They're named Webb and Simmons and Mills, and Sanchez and Rodriguez and Diaz, and Einhorn and Kim and Abdelrahman.
They're in their 20s and their 30s and their 40s and their 50s and their 60s.
They're married and they're single.
They're Republicans and they're Democrats.
They're house painters and home inspectors, Realtors and electricians, mortgage brokers and middle school English teachers.
They have kids in college.
They moved here from Tarpon Springs and Coral Springs and Palm Harbor and New York and Chicago.
They paid $220,000 and $75,000 and $825,000 for homes that were built in 2004 and 2006 and 1977 and 1969 in Hudson and Holiday and Port Richey and New Port Richey and Land O'Lakes and Zephyrhills.
They live on streets named Seabreeze Drive and Holy Spirit Court and in subdivisions called Lexington Oaks and Plantation Palms.
They have homes that are tan stucco and gray stucco and white concrete block, that sit in the sun by the FOR RENT signs and the FOR SALE signs and the PRICE REDUCED signs and behind guard shacks that warn RESIDENTS ENTRANCE ONLY.
They haven't made their monthly payments since August or July or March.
They really would rather not have their names in the paper.
There's a man who's a pool guy and a woman who's a hairdresser who met on a blind date and fell in love and had two sons and started a children's theater that performs fairy tales at local libraries and schools. They bought their home three years ago for $311,460 and they now owe $368,388.94.
There's a man who was a soccer star as a kid in Pinellas County and won a state soccer championship as a coach and now teaches science at a high school in Tampa. He and his wife bought their house four years ago. They now owe $3,000 more than they paid.
There's an older woman who lives in a one-story home in Port Richey who, until last week, was working at a local church as the director of the ministry to the sick. She can't make her monthly payment of $430.01. She's moving to the east coast to live with family.
There's a man who is a chiropractor. He and his wife have been married more than 20 years. They have three daughters and play in a Christian band. They live in a home they bought two years ago for $825,000 on which they now owe $887,660.64.
The man once wrote this in a story about the chiropractor business: "Modernization has improved the quality of our lives in so many ways, but it has also taken a toll. We subject ourselves to physical stresses in the modern world that our bodies were not designed to handle."
• • •
One more story.
Randy Chiavaroli is 53. He said it was okay to use his name. He owns an engine repair shop in Hudson, his wife recently won an award for volunteering for the Boy Scouts, and his son is in a wheelchair because of spina bifida.
His son for years has raced his wheelchair at events around the country. The wheelchair costs $3,000. The boy has been to Connecticut, Miami and New Jersey, and he wins championships. It makes him fit and proud, but it's expensive.
"Somehow," Chiavaroli told the Times in 2004, "we have to make it work."
Two or so years ago, Chiavaroli said, construction started to slow around here. Fewer houses being built meant fewer trucks driving to sites. Fewer pieces of equipment. Fewer engines running. Fewer engines needing to be bought, sold, fixed. Then gas went up the way it did. The trickle-down effect got to Bayonet Point Engine.
The company used to have four employees. Now it has one. Soon it might have none.
"The road ahead will be long," Obama said on Nov. 4.
Chiavaroli said the other day he had managed to pay enough to stop the foreclosure. For now. But no more cable. No more house phone. No more eating out.
He said one evening last week he was going to fry an eggplant for dinner. The eggplant cost $1.50. There was an egg. There was some oil. There were some breadcrumbs.
Times researcher Will Short Gorham contributed to this report. Michael Kruse can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6244.