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How one couple hustled to make a home for themselves in Detroit

Oct 10, 2016

When looking for a new house, prospective homeowners usually prepare to make a few cosmetic changes. When Amy Haimerl and her husband moved into their new Detroit home, it was completely void of plumbing, heating, and electricity.

“Everything had been scrapped,” Haimerl said on Stateside. “There wasn’t a radiator. There wasn’t a stick of pipe in there. There was no wiring left. We had to do everything.”

Haimerl is the author of Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Love, Life & Home, a new book that shares the experience of buying a $35,000 home in Detroit’s West Village with her husband, Karl Kaebnick. Their goal was to have a new home they can be proud of, not to act as if they were on a “humanitarian mission” for the city.

“We wanted to be a part of a place that was figuring out its future," Haimerl said. "Not to save Detroit, but to be a part of the Detroit that exists.”

Kaebnick lovingly named the house Matilda, after the Tom Waits song, “Tom Traubert’s Blues,” more commonly known as “Waltzing Matilda.” Haimerl said her husband chose the name because of how the song’s character ties to the history of their new home.

“[In the song] there’s sort of a grand, old dame who’s seen better days, and is still really beautiful in her own way,” Haimerl said. “And he saw that in Matilda.”

Haimerl joined us on today’s Stateside.