Detroit Organization Giving Houses to Writers
The Equity Factor

Detroit Organization Giving Houses to Writers

Write-A-House aims to give Detroit’s vacant neighborhoods more life, and give writers space to work.

One of Write-A-House’s Detroit homes. Credit: Andy Kopietz

This is your first of three free stories this month. Become a free or sustaining member to read unlimited articles, webinars and ebooks.

Become A Member

The myth of $1 homes on Detroit’s urban prairie has some competition. A new non-profit organization is handing over houses to writers who want to live in the Motor City.

Well, they’re not just forking over the deed and calling it a day. Write-A-House plans to start by restoring one of three homes it owns with money raised via Indiegogo, a crowd-funding website. Writers who qualify as “low income” can apply this spring. It’s no different than applying for a residency: Simply send a mission statement and writing sample.

But the writers can’t flip the house and move back to the coasts. They will have to live there for two years at very minimal costs — basically taxes and insurance. Should writers choose to stay after that, the deed will be turned over to them. It’s a grassroots attempt at rebuilding a neighborhood block by block, while simultaneously hoping to enrich Detroit’s literary culture.

“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,” Sarah F. Cox, founding editor of Curbed Detroit and a Write-A-House board member, said in a release.

Write-A-House has teamed up with Detroit Young Builders, a local organization that works with young Detroiters on construction and contracting skills. Toby Barlow, one of the founding board members, spoke about the program at Next City’s 10th Anniversary celebration last month. (You can watch the video here.)

What Write-A-House really gets at is not only sweat equity, but simple equity at the neighborhood level. Nothing can change overnight, but by moving writers into the neighborhoods outside of Midtown and Downtown, the group can help spread both people and cultural capital into other corners of the city.

The Equity Factor is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

Bill Bradley is a writer and reporter living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Deadspin, GQ, and Vanity Fair, among others.

Follow Bill

Tags: economic developmentdetroitequity factor

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 652 other sustainers such as:

  • Dina in San Francisco, CA at $60/Year
  • Anonymous at $10/Month
  • Andrew in Philadelphia, PA at $5/Month

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $10 or $5/Month

    Next City notebook

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    The 21 Best Solutions of 2021 special edition magazine

  • Donate $40 or $10/Month

    Brave New Home by Diana Lind