Write A House is pleased to announce that on May 31, we will be the recipients of a $75,000 grant to build a new vision of a writer’s residency in the North End of Detroit. Earlier this year, we re-wrote our mission statement to “grow a thriving community of writers in Detroit.”

We’re thrilled that The Kresge Foundation is making an investment in our long-term strategy to turn distressed, boarded properties into high quality housing as an investment in the community and in the creative arts.

Since we launched in 2013 with a mission to give away home to writers, life has gotten no easier for creatives in the field. Pay for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry is flatlining, and in many cases decreasing. Michigan is one of the states where journalists can expect to earn at least 6% less than the median income. What’s worse is a 2017 report in Mashable showing newspaper jobs are disappearing entirely, “Back in January 2001, the industry employed 411,800 people. In September 2016, that number had dropped to 173,709.”

At Write A House, we seek to create a long-term creative community where writers can live affordably while working on a body of work that will enhance Detroit. Our investment prototype for this residency is a duplex. This is a sustainable renovation because the cost per square foot of two units is less than for a single family (efficiency of scale). The rental revenue from one side will provide our first sustainable stream of income; this investment will allow us to invest in the community over time as we grow a thriving literary scene.

“We’re excited three times over by the potential in this project,” says Wendy Lewis Jackson, Kresge Detroit Program managing director. “We’re excited to be promoting the cultural life of the city by rooting writers here, which Write A House has an excellent track record of doing. We’re excited that this is happening in the North End, an area with a rich heritage and enormous potential, which we see being realized by long-term residents and newcomers working in tandem. And we’re excited to see a cultural organization looking creatively at how to make its work more economically sustainable.”

When we launched with the simple idea of free homes for writers, we envisioned Detroit as a thriving literary hub where new writers and existing ones would find creative community and collaboration. After creating three new homeowners in Detroit, we’re turning our attention to building creative community for writers in other ways. One of the main points of feedback from the home-give away program was that jobs for writers are still a primary concern. Our new vision is to support writers for projects of up to two-years while they live in the house. The to-be-designed residency will aim to couple affordable housing residencies with stipends to create a body of work.

While this award of $75,000 is substantial, Write A House will be raising additional fund this year for operational support, stipend for artists in residence, and the remaining renovation budget of the duplex. Contributions can be made here, or here. We are also interested in supply donations of building materials, particularly windows, doors, appliances, and other building supplies.

Write A House is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. To learn more about donating please contact Sarah F. Cox, director. Email: writeahouse@gmail.com