Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Big News from @WriteAHouse #Detroit #MotownLit #MichLit

Change on the Horizon

When Toby Barlow and Sarah Cox began talking about Write A House in 2012, both the real estate market and Detroit were quite different than they are today, four years later. The idea of giving houses away made a lot of sense in the face of this huge narrative that no one wanted to live in Detroit. We're now fighting a narrative of real estate speculation, house flipping, gentrification, and fear that artists may be priced out. While our original narrative of free homes for writers —TO KEEP—made sense then, our board now finds itself needing to make changes to be sustainable as an organization and to respond to the changes in the housing market.

Starting with our 2017 application round, we will no longer give away the homes to writers. In some ways it is a subtle change, everything we originally promised is there except for the deed transfer. We will still accept applications from talented emerging writers who want to live in Detroit long term and we will still award those writers rent-free homes. The difference is that once a writer decides to leave or passes away, we will fill it with a new writer and Write A House will not hand off ownership of the home. We will ensure that for the long haul, as things change around us more rapidly than expected, writers will have long term homes in our communities where they can create without the stresses of rising rent.

We've recently bought two properties and two vacant lots in the North End, and are aggressively fundraising for both. Our link to donate via paypal is here. We'll soon re-launch a new Write A House website messaging the new changes to future applicants. Once funds are secured, we'll partner with DWEJ on the renovations and will keep making sure Detroiters have job opportunities in our renovations. Our video on that is here.

We are ever grateful to our first four residents for signing up for such a new and experimental program and we're so pleased that each of them will be keeping a home. I'm sure that this new process may draw a new type of applicant as well, and look forward to seeing where that goes. We are inspired by Houston's Project Row Houses, and hope to learn from their successes.

Sarah Cox will remain on as director to see us through the board transition. In the long term, Write A House seeks to hire a new director. The position likely starts in early 2017, and Sarah will be talking to applicants and taking suggestions over the next few months. This will be a very exciting and challenging time for our organization but we are confident that the right person is out there to run with this role.

Thank you for your continued support of our wild residency idea, we are looking forward to seeing what comes next in this new phase!

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