Arlene Nickless’s husband Tim died suddenly, leaving her family devastated. She was married to Tim for 18 years. He contracted an illness when he used contaminated medical supplies. He fought the disease for seven years, before passing away in January 2008. Arlene was trying her best to raise her three kids alone, which is why ABC chose her and her family for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The ABC reps wanted to help the widow. She lived in a 3200-square-foot home, and it was going to get the makeover that she always dreamed of. Her neighbors even pitched in.
Arlene may have had the home that she always wanted, but the improvements made on the show caused her property tax to increase by 300 percent. This was triple the original value. This was a lot for Arlene, and she struggled to keep up with the payments. She may have had her dream house, but now she could barely afford it.
Losing Her Home
When Arlene couldn’t afford to pay the property taxes, and the house was mortgaged. In September, the bank took possession of the house and put it up for auction. This left Arlene and her three children with no place to live. People couldn’t believe that the women who won Extreme Makeover Home Edition is left homeless.
While Arlene was packing up everything she owed, she was overcome with sadness. This was the home that she and her husband lived in together for so long before he passed away. She didn’t have any other options. The house was no longer hers, and she and her family were about to be homeless. She was devastated, and nothing was going right for her. When she found out that she won Extreme Makeover, it was one of the happiest times of her life. She couldn’t believe that what once made her so happy was now causing her so much pain.
Blaming the Show
Many people blamed the show for her misfortune and the misfortune of many others. Many people who had been on the show were being left homeless because of the massive tax burdens they were left with. Arlene wasn’t one of these people. She believed that the show wasn’t to blame. Instead, it was her mortgage server who just happened to be under investigation. Arlene says that the time she spent with the team from Extreme Makeover was terrific.
Arlene says that her housing issues began before the show. The rising cost of the property was a problem even before she won. Before the makeover, she owed $30,000. Over time, that amount increased. By 2016, Arlene owned $113,000, which was something that she couldn’t afford.
Bring On the Wrecking Ball
With Tim gone and Arlene and the kids struggling and morning, the old home was demolished. It took just over five days to rebuild the house. When the team was finished, the family had a brand new home with four bedrooms. The home had some unique features such as stone columns and dark wooden floors. It was incredible. Each of the three boys was given their own themed bedrooms, including a LEGO-themed room, a blueprint themed room, and an airplane themed bedroom. The Extreme Makeover team put in a lot of time and effort into getting to know the family and knew exactly what they should do.
Cutting the Initial Cost
One of the best things that came out of the makeover was that the state and the banks involved with the mortgage found ways to cut the initial cost of $140,000 down to $30,000. The problem was that Arlene didn’t have that much money. Nine years later, the taxes were triple the amount that it once was. The family’s bills were increasing, and the bank account was dwindling. If Arlene couldn’t figure out a solution, she and her family would be out on the streets.
In 2010, Arlene was in a car accident, which left her further in debt. There were medical expenses and car expenses, which became a priority. By the end of 2010, Arlene had to say goodbye to her home because of the sheriff’s sale. The mortgage service that was handling Arlene’s case offered to pay off the money that she owed if she could come up with $15,000. Unfortunately, her mortgage was taken over by another company before Arlene could pay the money. After this, the family struggled for years to clear their debt. Arlene wanted answers about where the money was going, but she couldn’t anyway. This was when she decided to stop making her payments.
Not Recording the Payments
It turned out that the company wasn’t maintaining records or crediting payments. This meant that Arlene was paying the company, but none of her payments were being recorded. In 2011, the company started to process her loan. The value of her house was $270,000, which was way more than it was before the renovations. In 2014, a company offered to help. They were going to change Arlene’s payment plan.
In 2016, the house went into foreclosure for the second time. The house was listed on an auction website for $176,000, and the family was expected to vacate as quickly as possible. Many people blamed Arlene’s situation and others on the show. These people believe that if the show is more upfront about the financial costs after the renovations that families would be more prepared.
May 29, 2017
The Nickless family was set to leave their home on May 29, 2017. Arlene’s sister came over to help pack up the home. When everything was packed, the eviction was stalled a bit by Ocwen. This was the bank who caused all of the problems in the first place. They wanted more time to do a walk-through to get a firm appraisal for the property. This gave Arlene a bit more time in the home and to pray for a miracle.
J Ervin Bates wanted to help Arlene and her family, so he set up a GoFundMe page to help raise the money. It wasn’t going to be easy since the goal was $150,000. Sadly, they didn’t reach the goal. They only brought in $2,715, which was far less than they needed. The family was forced to move, and today, there is no word as to where they are living.