Detroit woman awarded grant to install furnace just days before Christmas

After spending tens of thousands of dollars, suffered unreliable contractors and multiple break-ins, a Detroit woman only needed one more appliance to call her house a home this Christmas. 

And much like the feel-good holiday stories that manifest when Dec. 25 closes in, things came together just in time.

"We've been ready for this. My son and I have been here all week until midnight, 2-3 o'clock in the morning, just preparing so we can actually say we are home on Christmas," said Devin Dupree

For Dupree, it's been a long four years leading up to this moment. When she bought her home on McNichols and Evergreen from the Detroit Land Bank, she knew there would be some work involved.

"So when I got in here, I thought 'ok there could be some scraping and painting' but then it was like 'oh wait no.' We had to open the walls, up gut everything out," said Dupree.

But purchasing a home is only the first step in a long list of unpredictable needs that an old home might need. Since purchasing the property the Land bank's auction, she's had four incidents where people broke in. But that's not all.

"I had all my plank flooring took throughout the house. A personal contractor brought it in for me so he could install it and the next day it's gone," she said.

By the end, Dupree had poured $40,000 into the house. It would only take a furnace to make it whole. Unfortunately, furnaces are expensive - like $5,000 expensive. It was that one more thing that Dupree said she just couldn't afford.

"The furnace was the most major expense," she said.

That's when a grant from the land bank authority and Fifth Third Bank helped her inch over the finish line. 

"With the goal of helping our homeowners who have been working on the renovations for a long time and just a need a little help to cross the finish line, so it's those big-ticket items like a furnace, a hot water heater," said Land Bank Authority Director Alyssa Strickland.

And it came in time for Christmas.

"I cried I was so happy - like I'm so grateful," Dupree said. "It is a blessing. I've had dreams about what I think it would look like and it's like it can never really compare to how it actually feels."