Hey Struggling Writer: Detroit Wants to Give You A Free House!

One of the homes being transformed for a writer.
One of the homes being transformed for a writer.

*Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. And you thought the city of Detroit was only known for Motown, automobiles and most recently, bankruptcy.

Now you can revise that list to include a big heart.

In an effort to expand the city’s creative community and put residents in its countless number of uninhabited homes in the process, a new nonprofit organization called¬†Write a House is providing free homes to writers.

Yep, you heard write.

If you are a struggling journalist, novelist, or poet; or are amongst those scribes in the “hard to classify” list – there may be a home in Detroit with your name on it.

Of course, you will have to relocate to get it.

Now be clear: this is no “artist-in-residence” opportunity that expects you to be there for a short time while you work on a specific project; this is an actual opportunity to be handed the deed to your own home for free.

Write a House is recruiting artists who want to stay by making them an offer they can’t refuse…A free house!

“I actually grew up at a writer’s colony, Blue Mountain Center, smack dab in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains,” Write a House founder Toby Barlow told The Los Angeles Times. “My mother began it as the founding director when I was about 14. It had a profound effect on me — I met amazing people and saw what a strong, positive community artists can build together.”

The organization is offering three properties to start with, in close proximity to one another, in a neighborhood north of Hamtramck in Detroit. The population is a mix of Bangladeshis and African Americans.

“One of our concerns going in was that maybe there weren’t any writers who would be interested in this. After all, Detroit gets more than its fair share of bad press,” Barlow admits. However, 24 hours after launch, more than 200 interested writers asked to learn more.

The Write A House homes were run-down, with boarded-up windows, holes in the walls,  crumbling ceilings and some extraordinarily funky kitchen wallpaper. All that is being transformed by volunteers and Young Detroit Builders, a nonprofit that provides training to at-risk youth.

To learn more about this opportunity, here is two different articles to check out.

Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times: Free houses for writers: Inside the Write a House project (Dec. 24)

Emma Ockerman, Detroit Free Press: Write-A-House aims to renovate Detroit houses for poets and novelists (Dec. 26)



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