January 8, 2014

Write A House gives writers the chance to apply for a free home in Detroit


Volunteers work on renovations to one of the houses being given away by Write A House.

Volunteers work on renovations to one of the houses being given away by Write A House.

Write A House is a new program that aims to offer free houses for writers who live in, or would like to move to, Detroit.

Our mission is simple: to enliven the literary arts of Detroit by renovating homes and giving them to authors, journalists, poets, aka writers. It’s like a writer-in-residence program, only in this case we’re actually giving the writer the residence, forever.

Write A House buys houses in need of repair, and will work with Young Detroit Builders, a non-profit organization that provides education and training to young people in the city, to make them habitable. Write A House has already bought three houses, and is currently raising money online for the renovations. Carolyn Kellogg writes at the Los Angeles Times:

To help create it more long-lived community, Write a House is offering three properties in proximity to one another in a neighborhood north of Hamtramck in Detroit. The population is a mix of Bangladeshis and African Americans, with artists like the well-known Powerhouse Project nearby, in an area that is suffering from the high vacancy rates afflicting much of the city.

One of the founders is Sarah Cox, Detroit resident and editorial director at the real estate website Curbed. The Huffington Post quotes from a release that Cox sent, “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.”

As for concerns about the desirability of the homes they’re giving away, Kellogg quotes founder Toby Barlow, “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.” Kellog notes that 24 hours after launch, Write A House had received 200 inquires from interested writers.

Anyone interested in donating can do so here, and writers interested in applying should visit the Write A House website for more information.



Julia Fleischaker is the director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.