Sunday, May 3, 2015

Extreme makeover

Camden's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is officially an extreme bust.

Extreme makeover

Victor Marrero and fiancee Milagros Rivera look out in May 2008, from the ´Extreme Makeover´ home.  He now has a buyer.
Victor Marrero and fiancee Milagros Rivera look out in May 2008, from the 'Extreme Makeover' home. He now has a buyer.

Camden’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is officially an extreme disappointment.

There is no fairy tale ending for the disabled father of five who moved into a five-bedroom home built for his family in Pennsauken courtesy of the ABC television program.

After two years, Victor Marrero is moving out and selling the 3,000-square-foot home for $275,000 to Urban Promise, an East Camden youth group. He plans to relocate and downsize.

Marrero says bills were piling up on the dream house and he could not keep up on his $939-a-month pension.

Marrero and his son Billy Joe gained national attention and an outpouring of supporter after they were interviewed by Diane Sawyer for the program 20/20 inside their roach-infested Camden rowhouse in 2007.

Their heart-wrenching story symbolized the despair in Camden, the poorest city in New Jersey. It also inspired complete strangers to come to their aid.

After the show, the family was nominated for Extreme Makeover. Thousands of volunteers helped build a dream home on the Pennsauken-Camden border that lifted the family from abject poverty to relative luxury.

But last year, Marrero tried to sell the house saying he was overwhelmed by the mounting bills. But the home’s $499,900 asking price was a tough sell for the area.

Besides, Urban Promised wouldn’t let him sell the house.

“I felt like there was a lion coming after me,” Marrero told the Inquirer last year.

In fact, Marrero said bill collectors came out of the wood work after he became a celebrity. Marrero has said he used $59,000 in donations from the community to pay off longstanding debts.

He called it quits last week and worked out a deal with Urban Promise.

Despite the outcome, Bruce Main, president of Urban Promise believes Marrero is in a better position than he was two years ago. It is unknown where Marrero plans to relocate.

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