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July 30, 2008

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In that second case, why in the world would the EHM producers even pick a family to "help" when they had a $250k mortgage they were still paying off? How in the world could building a megahouse and leaving them with a mortgage for a demolished house be construed as helping at all???

Oh, that's right...the show stopped being about helping people after about the first season...

I have never been a big fan of this show. How exactly do 50" plasma tv's "help" people that are in need?

If you want to help people, why not fix the problems with their existing homes, or do a modest renovation, and then pay off their mortgages for them. Now that would help them. Of course it would not make for good TV.

Like in your other post "When is enough enough," a fed person won't be hungry today, they'll be hungry tomorrow....a newly homed person won't need shelter today, they'll need shelter tomorrow.

Charity DOES NOTHING to help these people. They got to live in an expensive home for a while and now they'll all end up losing their homes. The core problem with these people is that they don't know how to manage money. They are uneducated in the ways of money.

Extreme Makeover would have been more successful if they sent all the people in these families into a "financial bootcamp" to learn how to manage money rather than "giving" them a home.

I have seen several episodes of Extreme Makeover in which the construction company paid off the existing mortgage.

Such situations may be a good example of your Sunday, 7/27/08 piece regarding the quick versus the slow way to wealth. From the NSV (New Century) version:

Proverbs 13:11 -- "Money that comes easily disappears quickly, but money that is gathered little by little will grow."

Proverbs 20:21 -- "Wealth inherited quickly in the beginning will do you no good in the end."

However, these types of programs always appeal to those who believe that simply throwing a lot of money at a problem will resolve it.

I've always viewed EHM as being more about product placement on behalf of Sears than about truly helping people.

I think that EHM is good for families that have extreme situations where they can't afford the kind of place that someone needs because of "bad luck," for example the one where a girl would die if the temperature got above 59 degrees, or the blind/disabled son, etc. These people have the means to keep up their homes but the technology to build a house like that for them isn't readily available and is very expensive. Things like alarms to notify the parents if a child is in danger during the night, etc.

I think that EHM does a lot of great things and showcases a lot of rare diseases and situations that people have to deal with and most of the time, is doing a good thing. But there have been a few where I've thought "why does that person deserve this and how are they even going to afford the first month's utilities?"

Someone who has a run down home because they made bad choices or doesn't have the income to keep up a house that large, is only going to hurt the reputation of this show. It's true that they often pay off the existing mortgage, but I think a lot of it depends on how generous the community is, since they do a lot of fundraisers, etc.

I've seen most of the homeowners get their mortgages paid off. If they built homes that were eco-friendly, their ongoing bills should be minimal. They could add solar panels, passive solar heating, high efficiency appliances, super insulated wall panels, etc... If they are gifted a car, it should be a hybrid. As far as property taxes are concerned, the producers should try to make a deal with local government authorities to keep taxes where they are so long as they remain in the house. This would still make for good TV and provide an example to the rest of us to reduce our energy needs. In addition, they should require the families to attend financial counseling because eventually, those massive homes will need maintenance and ABC/Sears will be long gone by then.

A group that actually does well giving away more-or-less free houses is Habitat. I worked a little with our local Habitat, and the application process is BRUTAL. It is like a job interview, a mortgage application, and a security clearance in one. The people who get Habitat houses are exactly the people who will be grateful and work to maintain them. The ABC recepients, maybe not so much.

I've never enjoyed the show. It seems like a super-sized version of the old "Queen For a Day" game show, where the woman with the most sympathetic sob story got a brand new washer & dryer. I think some people (including corporations) are inclined to 'do' charity in a big, splashy way without thinking thru the real needs of and consequences for their recipients. They (Producers, Sears, Ty, etc.) get to soak up the publicity, and feel good about themselves for what they've done. But let's be clear, it isn't charity. EMH is a business, and the families featured pay a price. In the meantime, this shows (and other reality-type shows) turn people into instant celebrities with none of the tools to handle their newfound fame and/or wealth. I personally know someone who, with her family, was featured on SuperNanny and afterwards faced awful personal tragedy, that was exacerbated by participation with the show. All of these programs that put children in the limelight violate those children's privacy. Ty Pennington, Dr. Phil & SuperNanny broadcast the health/behavioral issues of children -- Children who are too young to give their consent for the release of their medical information. Their guardians have traded their children's privacy for fame, granite countertops or Chevy. It is very sad.

I have never considered the "after costs" of EHM. It's very sad that what appeared on the face of it to be an act of charity (albeit with product placements) ends up being a greater burden for these families.

Thankfully Australian TV producers haven't cottoned onto this idea, which is surprising given we seem to copy anything that is successful in the US.

I had always wondered how on earth people could pay just the taxes and utilities on these palaces. In a few cases they had some celebrity fundraiser or something to store up a cash reserve, but the posters who mention financial boot camp are right: most low-income people have never had to deal with this kind of thing. Maintenance alone could be a nightmare after a while. The show could stop creating mini-mansions and do a nice, simple job that would be of much more value to the family and much more realistic. Put in some nice touches -- I have no problems with the nice TV and appliances -- but keep the overall picture workable.

Uh Oh! Here come the Lawyers,law suits will take care of all these poor folks. LMFAO

I worked as a seamstress on an episode of EMHE a few years ago. The excesses were awful; one of the teenagers got SIX flatscreen television sets in his bedroom. Why?? My task was making bedding for a round bed in a basketball-themed bedroom. Again, how practical is that?!? Have you priced sheets for round beds lately? They provided ONE set of sheets with the bed, and they were black. I felt really bad for them. The stuff we were asked to make was done very quickly, with completely inappropriate materials. It was going to fall apart as soon as the crews left. None of it was going to survive being laundered. But hey, that wasn't the point, was it?
I haven't been able to stomach watching the show since then. Another home was done near me and I refused to participate this time.

This show is all about showcasing the products in the same way The Price is Right, Lets Make Deal, the Newlywed Game, This Old House(on public TV) any all other shows. How do you think rice-a-roni became a household staple. I am sure that most if not all vendors pay "promotional consideration" to the show's producers. The format is such that it keeps viewers watching for the entire 2 hour show and therefore keeps the ratings up and allows them to charge more for commercials. ABC is no more responsible for the winners losing their house than is Bob Barker responsible for someone driving drunk in the sports car they won in the showcase showdown.

In a somewhat related comment, I recall seeing episode's of Pimp My Ride and wondering if the recipients could shoulder the cost of car insurance and replacement of $600.00 tires and $1200.00 rim's. And thinking that this just pimped car will be beback in it's old state in about 6 month's or less as the they sell off the 40 inch LCD to pay for gas or liability insurance. So it go's. You can't give a broke family a new 1 million dollar property end expect that they can pay all the bill's. I am a Union Carpenter and I have helped a local habit for humanitity familiy that my parent's know. I't was rewarding and 6 years later they still enjoy thear home. Slay

They should send them to financial bootcamp for a week while they remodel the home instead of disney world!

This is an entertainment show that is on the air for one reason...to make money.
ABC could care less about these people.

@ Catherine: You couldn't have expressed my feelings about this issue better! Queen for a Day (LOL! bet not many readers remember that) was as nothing compared to the excesses we're seeing on the boob tube today. At least those women weren't asked to humiliate themselves, subject themselves to bizarre surgeries that turn them into look-alike Barbie-Doll mannikins, or submit their disturbed or misbehaving children to the glare of the limelight. Queen for a Day wasn't revolting; some of the shows we're talking about are.

Though I can't afford cable and so don't watch EHM, I did enjoy This Old House when it was broadcast on PBS here. However, the same thought occurred to me: where do people get the money to run these upgraded joints? In the case of This Old House, though, it was clear the homeowners were affluent and were going to do expensive renovations anyway, so the show was acting as a kind of advisor in return for the favor of using the house as material for several episodes.

Habitat for Humanity has the right idea: Build people-sized houses with affordable amenities for folks who are having hard times.

I am surprised this hasn't been written about before as my first thought anytime I've had to watch EMHE (not by choice) is, "how are these people going to afford the upkeep on this monstrosity after the cameras leave?". I can't muster much sympathy for the recipients, I think it is just common sense to recognize that what they're being offered is too much. I believe the show usually pays off the mortgage and provides the family with some money for property taxes but anybody should see that it would be a huge increase in utilities, etc.

As other posters have noted, the show is just a product placement opportunity. It's a classic white elephant for the recipients.

My other thought watching the show has been that eventually the family will want to sell the house, and good luck trying to sell a mansion three times the size of any other house in the neighborhood.

I'm curious - what are the tax considerations here? The TV show gives someone a high dollar house; isn't there a gift tax liability for the recipient? Or, dos the show cover those taxes?

Here's a link to a local article about the troubles of the Raleigh, NC recipients of an 'Extreme Makeover' : http://www.newsobserver.com/1416/story/1157577.html

Megumi --

Interesting read. In this case though, it appears as if the EMHE house did NOT contribute to their problems.

I glad this news it getting more exposure

Bigger house more bills

new increases are home insurance, property taxes and maintenance

When you add it all up, You were better off before!

Well most of the recipients would NOT have been better off before even with increased utility bills and property taxes - many of the families were borderline homeless and/or living in such dilapidated shacks that their safety was seriously in danger. Even IF they end up not being able to afford the increased bills, at least they have been given a very valuable asset they can sell!

Also, there might not even be increased utility bills in many cases. In most of the shows I've seen they install all kinds of eco-friendly energy saving appliances which could very well be saving the families money compared to what they used to pay. Utility bills for the original houses must have been crazy expensive in many cases as well, as most of them seemed to lack proper insulation, have very old appliances, etc.

And I'm not quite so inclined to brand ABC or the producers as evil or uncaring as some commenters. They have to make the show entertaining in order to get viewers and ad revenue in order to continue helping other families. I actually think it is an incredible demonstration of when/how capitalism can be good for all involved. Sure, it's not perfect, but it is amazing, IMO...

Thank you Meg -
I was beginning to think I was the only person left with a little positivity.
I would love to do what the EMHE team do, and isn't it amazing that they have such enthusiasm for helping others, that's what is so inspiring - most of these families have given up. EMHE are wiping the slate clean for most of these families, they are giving them a fresh new start, a reason to live for some.

I agree, that something should be offered in line with the new house, to prepare them for expenses that need to be budgeted for, etc.
Like Meg mentioned: they can at least sell the house, and buy another more affordable one - they wouldn't have been able to befor.

I enjoy the show - and I like the products, sales pitch or not - I will only buy it if I need it, and so far the EMHE show hasn't forced me to buy anything.

I can't wait for the new shows!!!!

I support the show and what they are trying to do for people. Some of us are in the state that we are in because tragedy has hit us. My daughter was born with congenital defects. She spent the first 2 months of her life in intensive care. We recently attempted to go for a renovation loan to fix some problems with our house as well as add a larger Master bedroom so that her crib will fit comfortably in there with us. She can't sleep in her room until her trachia gets stronger. We were turned down for our loan because of the as is appraisal came in 10,000 lower than we need it to. So...for some of us it isn't that we are lazy (my husband works two jobs so that I can stay home with our 3 children)Sometimes no matter how stable you are financially "stuff" happens. My husband used to have a job that payed very well...then his company decided to outsource his job to India forcing us to move to another state so that we could afford to live on his second sallary. Since then we had our youngest daughter... how were we to know that she would be born with her esophagus in two parts...not connected to her stomache but connected to her trachia....you can't plan financially or emotionally for that kind of thing. So before you go and bash the family or the network just know that maybe you don't know everything. I hope that they pick us. It isn't like my husband would stop working his but off...but at least our house would be safer and have more room for our needs.

I just wanted to second but also correct what "dogatemyfinances" commented about on July 30th. Habitat for Humanity is in the business of helping the working poor help themselves. Habitat homes are in no way free, homeowners pay a 0% interest mortgage and invest an average 300 hours of sweat equity into building their homes. They also receive training around financial management, savings and credit counseling to prepare them to successful homeowners. You are correct that the app process is vigorous b/c you have to be willing and able to put in the work and pay for your home. EHM is a give-away program and although our hearts go out to these deserving and troubled families, giving away a home that they cannot afford to maintain or tearing down a perfectly good house that could be donated to another deserving family boggles my mind. EHM grosses millions of dollars feeding on the publics need for a warm fuzzy feeling from primetime T.V. Could imagine the hundreds of deserving famlies that could benefit from these types of profits? At the end of the day EHM is about the almight dollar, that's the reality of this reality tv show. I am happy for the families who have been able to sustain the blessing they recieved from EHM, and my heart goes out to those families who are now dealing with bigger burdens than they had before.

I just wish that people would get this excited about projects like Habitat does or the Fuller Center for Housing. Hundreds of thousands of people volunteer their time, talent and treasure everyday around the world to projects like this and receive no praise, no recognition on national television and certainly no million dollar profits...just that warm fuzzy feeling in their hearts that many americans are trying to get from T.V. given EHM's ratings and success.

Drumm pays $445 in old fines
By VICKY TAYLOR Staff writer


Matthew Drumm, the South Mountain man whose family was given a new home in November by the ABC-TV show Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, paid $445.90 in old fines to Magisterial District Judge Larry Pentz' office last week.
The money cleared fines Drumm owed to Pentz' office for old dog law violations dating between 1995 and 2000, and laid to rest rumors that Drumm was about to be arrested on warrants related to those unpaid fines.

Pentz confirmed today that Constable Ron Larson brought Drumm to his office either Thursday or Friday to pay the fines. He said the fines were paid in full.

Other than the dog violations and a variety of old parking and traffic tickets and two bad check charges dating back to 2000, no other charges are on record for Drumm.

Drumm told Public Opinion over the weekend that his family could not give interviews before the Extreme Makeover show airs on Jan. 18 because of an agreement with the show and its network.

He said once the show has aired, he and his family would be free to talk about their new home and how they are handling the publicity they have received since Chambersburg's Ryan Builders constructed a new 2,500 sq.-ft. four-bedroom home for them on ABC's instructions.

The new home came with a well that replaced an old cistern that had to be filled twice a month and a large solar panel to supplement the home's heating system.

The family told reporters after the unveiling of the home that those two features


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would help alleviate some of their financial problems connected with their own home.
The Drumms have three sons, two of whom are special-needs children with autism.

Balisa Drumm has said she hopes the new home will enable her to pursue her dream of caring for more special needs children.

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Vicky Taylor can be reached at 262-4753 or vtaylor@publicopinionnews.com

remember back in the day when the show just remodeled the houses. just adding a couple hundred feet and redocorating seemed to make people just as happy. and Im sure less expensive and more in hte families price range of keeping up. I wish they would realize that bigger just isn't better

when this first aired think that took a home and did a make over on it. Which is a great thing, I,ve offen wonder way they make such big house! I've also noticed that there are alot of owners that can't afford the upkeep on there home but can afford alot of gold jewerly. Why are children in mid to late twenties still living at home, if there not ill or disable? Some of these families have adult children who really should have had a job. What about their neighbors property taxes? With a house that expensive surely that don't like it that its increased their taxes.

If EHM,ABC, Sears and the builder pay off the mortgage
there should be in a contract somewhere that the house could not be sold or re mortgaged for a long period of time, unless there is an extremely good reason. After all parts are informed of the problem. I feel sorry for all those people who voluntaried their hard work and it wasn't appreciated. Maybe instead of sending off on vacation a little sweat equity would make them appreciate it more

The application is way too long and i don't think someone's back ground should be an issue.The question i am refering to is on page #4 of the application.

Absolutely these families need to do a week of money management courses, not disney world. some people just dont know how to handle finances. snd for these people refinancing the homes for hundreds of thousands, i agree that should be in the contract as unacceptable. I do not feel nearly as bad for those families, or at least the adults in the families, if EHM paid their mortgage and they refinanced it resulting in forclosure, thats their fault general speaking. and with EHM's connections, solar panels should be on all their homes. For example northern US homes they build should not have vaulted ceilings, everyone knows heat rises, yes they look beautiful but are not economical, this program is all about audience appeal and making money. i do watch the show but i also understand the bs when cameras leave, some families end up wonderful, others fail horribly and its sad.

Why not take into account that these new and improved homes can be sold for a profit and this would leave these families better off thatn they previously were. Only in America would people complain about a gift.

We love to watch ur show to see the great houses u guys build for the people in need. We also r a family in need. Both me and my husband r not working and we have to care for our 2 pretty girls. Cant u guys come to South Africa to build us our dream home. We might be homeless by month end if we dont find work to pay rent, coz we already didnt pay last month. Pls help us God is gonna bless u.

We love ur show and the beautiful houses u guys build for those special people in need. My husband and i also need a house of our own. We both not working and we r raising our 2 girls. We need ur help. We might be homeless by month end. Pls help us. GOD bless.

We love ur show and the beautiful houses u guys build for those special people in need. My husband and i also need a house of our own. We both not working and we r raising our 2 girls. We need ur help. We might be homeless by month end. Pls help us. GOD bless.

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