Detroit Offering Free Houses to Writers

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?

You can find out more on their website.

Dean Fetzer

News by Dean Fetzer

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for the past 21 years. After a career in graphic design, he started a pub review website in the late 90’s; He left that in 2011 to concentrate on his thriller writing, as well as offering publishing services for authors, poets and artists. When not writing - or in the pub - he can be found in the theatre, live music venues and travelling.

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EricWojo's picture
EricWojo from Livonia, Michigan is reading The Brothers Karamazov December 26, 2013 - 8:36am

I live here. Write A House is correct. I've done some of my best writing while driving through the ruins of Detroit.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On December 26, 2013 - 12:11pm

I love that they're doing that, especially there. I hope they do one in New Orleans, but I REALLY hope they do one in LA. I might jump on that.

Paul Fassett's picture
Paul Fassett from Wilmington Delaware is reading The Plague Dogs December 26, 2013 - 1:12pm

Detroit is tits up economic wise, and it's a smart move on their part from a beautification standpoint because they know writers will actually take care of their house. After all, I know I can't write when my house looks like prolapsed anus.

It's that broken windows problem where no one wants to live in their cities cause they look like post war Somalia. If writers move in and make everything all nice, then they can jack up the prices once demand goes up.

I was going to see about applying to this, but I realized it's Detroit. I moved from LA to Minnesota, and I am looking to move to warmer climates. Moving to Detroit right now, even with the perks seems like going from one hell to another. It's shame because it's exactly what I need right now.

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon December 28, 2013 - 1:16am

It says this is a plan to "combat blight and crime." I can't think of an incentive that would be enough for me to choose living among blight and crime. Vacant, falling apart homes in crime ridden neighborhoods are practically free anyway. But hey, if it works for Detroit and any writers, good deal for them I guess.