Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Title Says it All

Last week, I mentioned a couple of cable reality shows that use housing and remodeling as their premise. There is another program that raises questions and has since its debut.

The idea for the show is to provide a deserving family a brand new house filled with everything any person could want. Often these people are in financial difficulty because they are underemployed and/or face debilitating medical expenses. In order to survive, the family let housing fall to the bottom of their needs list.

In earlier days, the builder often paid off any existing mortgage that burdened the family. Builders even provided college funds or paid off medical bills. That type of donation is noticeably missing from the series this year. Add higher insurance, utility and property tax bills for the new structure and one must wonder how the family will pay for the on-going costs of maintaining the huge house they win. Are any of these homes now in foreclosure? The answer, sadly, is yes.

Since the beginning, the program has provided more house than most of these people need or can maintain. The series ignores the adage “It’s not the cost – it’s the upkeep.” By flagrantly disregarding the future, what does this show communicate to those who watch it?

I do not begrudge these deserving people a new house but it would be nice to see this program cut back a bit. It can show us an amazing makeover each week and still provide the families with housing they can handle.

Responsible ownership plus concern for one’s neighbors and community is exactly what we need to survive today’s struggling economy and move into a future based on something other than greed. This show has two of these elements already. Add the third and it would be communicating a trio of values that will keep it a winner.

Part III next week.