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Wanted: Writers Willing to Live in Newly Renovated Homes — For Free

by | Jan 7, 2014

Move to Detroit and get a free house — just for being a writer.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But that’s what Write A House is offering to the lucky winners of its Author-in-Residence award.

A new twist on the writer’s residency

It’s a new kind of writer’s residency, one where the writer gets to keep the residence. But WAH does have a motive other than simply giving creatives a place to live: the organization wants to liven up Detroit’s literary arts community. Attracting writers, they hope, will help grow diverse and creative neighborhoods.

Three low-income writers will be chosen based on their writing skills and desire to contribute to their new city. Each will be given the keys to a newly-renovated house in a neighborhood north of Hamtramck in Detroit — though they should be prepared to assist with the finishing touches, such as painting.

Write A House house under renovations

Photo by Andrew Kopietz, courtesy of Write A House

“We chose this neighborhood to start because it’s a smaller community and we felt we could have an impact,” Kat Hartman, acting director of WAH, explained to The Huffington Post. “The neighborhood has a level of vacancy that is affecting the quality of life for current residents. They need more good neighbors.”

Winners will lease their new homes from the organization during their two-year term; at the end of their official residence, they will be given the deed to their house.

In exchange, writers are expected to participate in local literary and cultural events, write pieces for the WAH blog, contribute to a WAH literary journal, and be responsible, engaged members of the community.

Will you be the next author-in-residence?

You can apply for your chance at the award starting this spring, and you’ll need a letter of intent, a writing sample, and a resume. Writers from anywhere in the world are eligible to apply, though international applicants will want to keep U.S. work regulations in mind, as WAH notes that they are unable to assist with visa applications. Sign up on their site to be notified regarding application details and deadlines.

Write A House Offers Free Houses to Writers in Detroit

Photo by Andrew Kopietz, courtesy of Write A House

The restoration of the first house, which is about 1,000 square feet, is expected to cost $25,000. WAH is crowdsourcing donations through Indiegogo to fund the project, and all donations go directly to Young Detroit Builders, which is a registered 501(c)3 charity.

(Update: they exceeded their goal by raising over $30,000!)

What do you think of WAH’s plan? Will you apply?

All images in this post are by Andrew Kopietz and are used courtesy of Write A House. More photos of the house can be found in the Write A House Gallery.