The producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." chose Milton and Patricia Harper from 15,000 applicants to receive a new dream house.
Now, just four years after moving in, the Clayton County couple is among an estimated 2.7 million American homeowners who will face foreclosure in 2009.
Their 5,300-square-foot mini-mansion is scheduled to be sold on the Clayton County Courthouse steps Tuesday.
And they're not alone among winners of "Extreme Makeover," the popular reality show that refurbishes or rebuilds home for families in need.
Eric Hebert of Idaho lost his home in February with nearly $400,000 owed to the bank, the Associated Press reported.
Families living in two other "Extreme Makeover" homes, one near Detroit, the other in central Florida, were granted last-minute reprieves after their financial struggles were publicized.
The Harpers, who have three sons, are unlikely to get such charity. In fact, Milton Harper said Monday his family has received death threats since their first brush with foreclosure was reported in August.
"People are going to be people and I love them and bless them anyway," he said. "We're in God's hands." He declined to talk about specifics of the foreclosure.
The Harpers were granted a loan modification last summer to avoid foreclosure on their house, the biggest built by "Extreme Makeover" at the time. They had used the house at 5489 Ahyoka Drive in Lake City as collateral for a $450,000 loan; the family says the money went to a failed construction business. According to state real estate records, the couple agreed to make payments of $2,279.35 until June 2047 on the outstanding $468,245 mortgage.
The Harpers have struggled for several years with finances. In January, a State Court judge ordered Milton Harper to pay Southern Regional Medical Center $10,000 after the Riverdale hospital sued for the amount.
Harper said he told the hospital he was unemployed but did not follow advice to get indigent services agencies to help with the bill "due to my pride."
ABC-TV issued a statement Monday: "'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' families aren't immune to the current state of the U.S. economy. EMHE has always strived along with our volunteer builders to create not only 'extreme' homes, but homes that work for the owners for years to come. As always, we are striving to build greener, more affordable and environmentally responsible homes, and redoubling those efforts for years to come."
The Harpers were selected by the show's producers after they learned of the couple's problems with a septic tank. Hard rains would cause raw sewage to flood their then modest-home, which was made over into a sprawling behemoth.
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