Detroit Hustle: MSU professor Amy Haimerl documents her move to the Motor City

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Amy Haimerl, an adjunct professor of journalism at Michigan State University, made a bold move a few years ago when she and her husband decided to leave their pricey Brooklyn home to buy an abandoned house in Detroit for $35,000. The 1914 Georgian Revival house that they ended up buying had no plumbing, heat or electricity, but, with a lot of work, they turned it into a home.

Haimerl decided to document her experiences by writing a memoir entitled Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home. The account conveys both the good and bad aspects of the couple’s decision to move to a weary and fractured city in 2013. Filled with personal anecdotes, Detroit Hustle portrays the Haimerls trying to make the troubled city their new home during the same time Detroit filed for bankruptcy, while exploring the meaning of urban revival.

Published in May 2016, the memoir shows the reality of living in modern-day Detroit by depicting the struggles of its citizens, as well as their constant hope and stubborn determination that the city will eventually rise again. Through her descriptions of how she and her husband found, bought, and fixed up a house, Haimerl shows how ‘magical and complicated’ (as stated in the memoir) the Motor City truly is.

Detroit Hustle also covers the personal aspects of uprooting your life, both for the Haimerls and for their neighbors. Despite their differences, people come together to rise above the challenges presented.

The daughter of an excavator, Haimerl was raised to appreciate the labor that goes into refurbishing an old house. Her strong interest in urban renewal and rural poverty adds much to her understanding of what Detroit has been going through in recent years, as she addresses in both her memoir and in other articles that she has written.

Haimerl describes Detroit as being a community that’s “not afraid of a little hard work or things that are a little rough around the edges.” The memoir is as much a letter to the people of the city itself as it is a reflection on what it takes to transform a house into a home. Even though she is not from the town, Haimerl wholeheartedly embraces the city, faults and all.


Holly Bronson is a senior studying professional writing and arts and humanities, with a minor in peace and justice studies. In her rare free time, she loves to drink Earl Grey tea while thoroughly analyzing Harry Potter and telling lengthy stories from her various adventures around the globe. 🙂 Check out her portfolio at!


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