In Detroit, A Home for Writers

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

detroit, house, renovation, writers, write a house Detroit writers and urban activists are restoring houses in the city to award to low-income working writers. (Write A House)

Drive around Detroit, and you'll find blocks upon blocks of vacant houses. Some in shambles, burned to the ground from fires. Others vandalized and looted-- the remnants of people's lives hurled onto the front porch.

In the next few months, saving Detroit will become about a lot more than fixing its finances. It will also be about fixing its exterior: repairing the damage and putting people back in those now-vacant homes.

Of the many projects that aim to do just that, there's one that could transform Detroit from a city of vacant houses into a mini-writers colony.

The idea comes from a new nonprofit called Write A House. It's an organization that aims to teach and support literary creativity. It's launching a contest where a panel of judges will review work submitted by low-income writers. Winners will be given newly remodeled homes in Detroit to lease for two years. When those two years are up, they'll be given the deed to their new home.

Billy Collins, former United States poet laureate, will be one of Write A House’s judges when the nonprofit starts accepting applications from working writers in the spring.


Billy Collins

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


Gianna Palmer

Comments [4]


An Artist community could be very helpful, but how do they feed themselves?

Giving renovated property to talented, committed people is a great idea! A good question to have asked would be: Are other sources of community building being contacted? A community coordinator seems necessary.

How about linking up with someone who's running a little corner store, say in a town nearby, and they could expand on the same block, a free 'in' for another business, an' renovated home with option to own? No Wal-Mart, but maybe Walmart, or Costco would be interested in supporting persons with entrepreneurial spirit. They could profit in the future since a vibrant community, once established, would be supportive to a larger growing community.

Dec. 26 2013 11:24 AM
Lisa R from Portland, Oregon

I've been thinking all those empty, abandoned houses in Detroit could be offered to house some of the Syrian families suffering in refugee camps. Seems like it could be a win-win; they could contribute their skills and energy to helping fix Detroit, Detroit offers them a safer place to wait out the craziness in their own country, and maybe they'd share their stories with some of these writers who might also be living there.

Dec. 24 2013 01:45 PM
Kay Merkel Boruff from Dallas

Invite immigrants and small business owners to move to Detroit & help dream a new city.

Dec. 24 2013 12:27 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I'm in, but I don't want to own, just give me a rental...Fixing up a house will take away all my energy and time to write.

Dec. 24 2013 09:09 AM

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