Nine years after the sudden loss of her husband, Arlene Nickless is being forced out of her dream home.
It was a tragedy when her husband, Tim, contracted hepatitis C. A career long nurse, it was suspected he accidentally pricked a contaminated needle leading to his infection. He bravely fought the disease for 7 years before finally passing in January of 2008.
Alone and unable to afford the desperately needed renovations to their 1860s farmhouse, Arlene reached out to ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, then hosted by Ty Pennington, for help. Both the show and the community responded in a big way. With the help of over 1600 volunteers, they demolished their old house and in 5 days built a 3300 square feet dream home in its place.
It was a truly astonishing achievement - 4 bedroom, 2 bath, with stone columns, dark wood floors, an indoor water wall and a retractable flat screen TV in the living room. The rooms were designed specifically for the kids, with her son receiving a LEGO-inspired bedroom and an airplane bed. It was like living in paradise.
But there was trouble in paradise. With the newer, bigger home came an increase in property taxes. In 2008 her taxes were $2000 a year, but after the new house was built they ballooned to be nearly $7500. Then, in 2010, Arlene got into a car crash and fell behind on the mortgage payments. From $30,000 it skyrocketed to over $113,000 by the end of 2016, until the mortgage company finally foreclosed on the house last September.
This isn’t the first time Extreme Makeover has resulted in a foreclosure, as the show offers little help to homeowners after their property taxes rise to become unaffordable. Still, Arlene doesn’t blame the show, and rests blame squarely at the feet of her mortgage holders. Ocwen Financial held the mortgage since 2011, and is now under a cease and desist order from the state of Michigan for violation of mortgage laws.
When reached for comment by the Lansing State Journal, Ocwen replied that they are "committed to working with distressed borrowers to find the right solution to allow them to keep their homes." The company forced Nickless and her family from their home of 9 years this past Monday.