Furnace fried, Detroit 91-year-old turned away from agencies for 'making too much'

A 91-year old woman shells out thousands of dollars after her furnace gives out. Now she's struggling to make the payments on her fixed income 
A 91-year old woman shelled out thousands of dollars after her furnace gives out. 

Now she's struggling to make the payments on her fixed income and those local agencies that are supposed to help her declined her application.

Elizabeth Higginbothom is a Detroit born-and-bred 91-year-old. She's seen Detroit rise and fall. Now, she's fallen on tough times but the local agencies that are available to help says she makes too much money for them to step in.

Higginbothom has spent some warm days with Nat King Cole, Jackie Wilson, and Billy Warren. Recently, though, she's endured chill from this year's sub-zero winter. As she explains, it all happened when her power went out.

"An accident that happened overnight," she told FOX 2's Dave Spencer. "The lights went out and when they went back on my furnace did not come on."

That accident was four months ago. At first, Higginbothom has been helped by her neighbors who brought over space heaters and other things but she knew eventually she would have to get a more permanent solution. 

She lives in an old Detroit home that requires a new steam boiler to heat the house. She shopped around for the best price she could find, but it wasn't cheap: just under $7,000. So she got it installed and believed she was eligible for some help. She was turned away.

"Because of my fixed income and my age, I was turned down by everybody so then I had to accept a new one at $94 a month and that's going to be rough," she says she knew the payment would be too much. "But what else could I do?"

At 91, she's not on food stamps or Medicaid, she pays all her bills and collects social security and a pension. She has one son but he's in the hospital with children of his own to worry about.

"Right now I need help with my furnace, that $94 dollars a month that was for groceries and now it's going take that and I don't know what I'm going to do."

Her friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help her pay off the debt of the new boiler. If you want to pitch in, click here.


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