The home Arlene Nickless lived in with her three sons nine years ago was in major need of repair. Luckily, Arlene was chosen to have her home rebuilt on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. However, after several years of struggling to manage her mortgage, Nickless was evicted from her Eifert Road home. In recent weeks, the home has been up for online auction after it was foreclosed on in September.
In 2008, the Holt resident was gifted with designers from ABC’s Extreme Makeover in addition to hundreds of volunteers who helped to rebuild her home following the death of her husband of 18 years, Tim Nickless.
When Inside Edition went to visit, cardboard boxes were stacked on the dark hardwood floors. Outside, a 2009 Ford Flex that was given with the home sat in the driveway hooked to a moving trailer.
“The sheriff could show up anytime… We’d have to leave whatever’s left behind. I haven’t had a chance to go through everything.”
A tearful Arlene Nickless revealed to Inside Edition that moving out of her dream home was rather surreal, “When I stepped out of the house the day Extreme Makeover came, you will see me say ‘I can’t believe this is happening’… And, truthfully, that’s what I feel right now: I can’t believe this is happening.”
Over 1,600 volunteers from the Holt area showed up and joined the show’s crew to rebuild the Nickless family’s home. The old home was an 1860s farmhouse that had fallen into disrepair during the time Tim Nickless fell ill.
The old home was completely demolished, and after a five-day building period, Arlene and her three sons walked into their brand new 3,300-square-foot, four-bedroom home.
The newly built home was remodeled with stone columns, dark wood floors, an indoor water wall, and a retractable flat-screen television. The home included a Lego-themed room, another bedroom with blueprints covering the walls, and an airplane bed for Arlene’s youngest son.
Arlene Nickless defends the ABC show, whose lavish rebuilds have been known in many cases lead to foreclosure due to increased property taxes and expensive utilities. However, Nickless is not as complimentary of her mortgage servicer.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Answers The Nickless Family’s Prayers
Ty Pennington and crews from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition arrived at the Nickless family’s doorstep nine months after Arlene’s husband, Tim Nickless, died. A nurse at Ingham Regional Medical Center located in Lansing, Michigan said Tim Nickless was believed to have contracted hepatitis C after being pricked with a patient’s contaminated needle. Tim battled the disease for seven years before his death in January of 2008.
Arlene’s home’s foreclosure resulted from an ongoing struggle to manage the property’s mortgage after the makeover. Nickless’ balance sat at about $30,000 after the makeover but had skyrocketed to at least $113,000 by the end of 2016, according to Arlene.
“It took a few unexpected emergencies and I got behind… I tried to work with the mortgage company, but my efforts were shoved under the carpet.”
Arlene stated, “It was an answer to a prayer, 100 percent.” Her sons were still young when their home was transformed.
The eviction notice then came in the mail. Arlene said she asked the judge if there was anything she could do to halt the eviction, even health reasons and she recalled, “He said, ‘No.'”
Neighbors who supported her on that life changing day nine years ago have been left stunned by news of the eviction. One neighbor told Inside Edition, “It’s not fair at all… Her heart is broken. First, she loses her husband; now she’s losing her house.”
Karen Schroeder, Vice President of Mayberry Homes, who was also the general contractor for the home said the construction brought the community together in the midst of the economic downturn.
Another neighbor called the situation “sad.” The once beautiful home is now nearly empty, and the moving van is full. Arlene says she’s trying to stay upbeat despite being evicted from her dream home.
“I feel so blessed we had this happened to us. It’s a beautiful home… They can take away the house but they can’t take away the memories.”
Nickless wanted to give back to the community through the home. Arlene dreamed of using the home as a camp for kids who’d lost a parent. In addition to this, Nickless wanted to build a memorial garden for her husband and a blessing garden for all of the volunteers who helped to build her home, according to Lansing State Journal.
“I feel bad because so many people came together to help us… I know I shouldn’t feel like I let them down, but I do.”
Nickless said she wanted to share her story in the hopes that it would effect change for others struggling with house payments, “It breaks my heart to know there are families going through this every day.”
The widow said she is moving in with her 32-year-old son. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Nickless family.
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