LITERARY ARTS, COMMUNITY, Housing
Since our founding in 2012, Write A House has worked to grow a thriving community of writers in Detroit: We renovate dilapidated housing to create writers residencies.
Despite renewed attention for the city, Detroit is still plagued by decrepit structures and a sputtering real estate market. According to Motor City Mapping, a public-private data system for tracking every property in Detroit, there are just over 50,000 vacant structures in Detroit — one in every eight properties in the city is a vacant structure. Unfortunately, difficulties in navigating the Detroit real estate market persist and add additional vacant structures to the citywide tally every day. Since 2008, more than 125,000 Detroit properties have been foreclosed on for non-payment of property taxes. Cash sales dominate the Detroit real estate market, where mortgages are virtually absent. Further, since the financial crisis, 98% of all property transactions have been cash sales and in no year since 2009 has Detroit, a city with 380,000 properties, seen more than 500 home purchase loan originations.
Write A House renovated long-empty homes fills them with emerging writers that apply through our competitive judging process. Since launching in 2013, we have given away three renovated homes to low-income writers who moved to Detroit for the first time; in 2016 we promised a fourth to a native Detroiter. Starting in 2017, we began working on a program of long-term residencies that would pair affordable housing with an investment in the rental housing market to generate more investment in stipends for writers.
Looking to the future of real estate development
Just because a real estate market is cheap does not make it inclusive.
What if there was a way to ensure artist's presence in a neighborhood for the long-haul, by buying and renovating homes now, and saving them for artists for generations to come? What if there was a way to collect rent the way development companies do, pay down the expense of renovating, and use the rest to subsidize artist housing?
There is a way. The artists we support are writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
Write A House will open applications for future artists-in-residence in 2018 with revised guidelines. Stay tuned for more details. Our newsletter is the best way to learn about the program, our writers, donating, as well as future application dates. We are not able to respond to all emails about individual application concerns at this time.
Write A House is a 501(c)(3) organization.