'Extreme Makeover' extremely expensive: winning man forced to move out

Sarah Gilbert
victor marrero
victor marrero

Victor Marrero was kissed by the gods of reality TV. After he and his Camden, N.J. rowhouse were depicted, roaches and all, on a February 2007 20/20 piece about his poor city, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came a-calling. It was a whirlwind: by August 2007, he and the two of his five sons who still live at home were taking the keys to a five-bedroom home in Pennsauken, Penn., on property owned by Camden youth program Urban Promise and built by J.S. Hovnanian & Sons.

And then he faced the reality of living like the rich people do on a monthly pension of $939, which was not even enough for the 56-year-old man to afford the $11,500 annual cost of utilities and property taxes. Not to mention considerable debts Marrero had amassed in his years of living in poverty (not detailed by news reports) that were barely repaid by a $59,000 donation from the community. Marrero tried to sell the home -- he wanted to ask $499,000, a price that local real estate agents said would be hard to achieve -- but Urban Promise wouldn't let him.