Detroit Offering Free Houses to Writers
Detroit has been suffering for a while now, with people leaving the city at an alarming rate, creating a large pool of empty homes just falling apart. Now, Write A House, a non-profit writers in residence program, is aiming to change that by setting up a scheme to train local youths in carpentry and construction and reward three writers a year with a free house. The house will be 80% habitable, with the writer required to finish fixing it up to live rent-free for the first two years, paying insurance and property tax. They’ll then receive the deed to the house “as long as certain terms and conditions have been met”.
Those conditions include finishing up the renovation, contributing content to the WAH blog, participating in local readings, and being “responsible home owners, engaged neighbors, committed city residents, and good literary citizens.”
WAH has also launched an Indiegogo campaign to pay for the first renovation, needing $25,000 for the project. Of course, it’s attracting complaints that other people might be in need of homes and has raised the spectre of “gentrification” (gasp!). The organisation has addressed the issue on its blog:
By giving these homes away, rather then filling them with temporary residents, we provide the neighborhood with more engaged and invested neighbors. By fixing up the properties and adding more eyes and ears to the street, we are combating issues of blight and crime
Makes sense, and there are other good reasons to encourage writers to live in the city, too. “Detroit has an amazing arts scene,” said co-founder and novelist Toby Barlow. Urban regeneration and encouraging local youth to find work are both good reasons, not to mention the chance to get more creatives into the area. There are entry conditions (writing sample and application), not to mention conditions to meet the free house deal, but it sounds like an ideal situation for writers without a lot of income. Would you consider moving to Detroit for a free house?
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