Write A House volunteers will spend the next few months renovating this house.
Directors of the nonprofit Write A House are bent on fixing up some portion of the Michigan city’s thousands and thousands of vacant and blighted homes and handing them over to writers for virtually nothing, forever.
Sarah Cox, editorial director of the real estate site Curbed, moved from New York City to Detroit three years ago to operate the site’s blog for the Motor City. The Huffington Post quoted her as saying in a release, “In the past three years, I’ve seen incredible progress, but there is still so much room for more in the literary arts. … This is a city with unique, historic and fascinating stuff happening. We think there are writers who will want to come and be a part of it.”
Write A House is currently hoping to raise $25,000 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo to restore Peach House, the first future home for a Detroit writer. Young Detroit Builders, which teaches contracting skills to young people in the city, will help get the houses back into shape.
... “We chose this neighborhood to start because it’s a smaller community and we felt we could have an impact,” said Kat Hartman, acting director of Write A House. “The neighborhood has a level of vacancy that is affecting the quality of life for current residents. They need more good neighbors.”
Write A House will accept applications from working, “low-income” writers in the spring, who will be asked to send writing samples and a letter of intent. The judges include former National Poet Laureate Billy Collins, poet Major Jackson, writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton and editor of the Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishing house Sean McDonald. Writers from all over the world, or living just a few miles away, are all encouraged to apply.
If they win, they’ll call Detroit home for at least the next two years. Writers will lease the homes from the nonprofit, a small amount to cover taxes and insurance. If they stay for 24 months, they’ll be awarded the deed—and Detroit will count another resident to its comeback.
Donate to the restoration of the project’s first house, a writer’s future career, and Detroit’s literary renaissance here. Writers can apply beginning in spring 2014 here.