Writer’s Residency is not a new concept, but the Detroit non-profit organization Write a House looks to do more than give writers a place to write in sanctuary, it aims to give them a new place to live.
Two writers, Sarah Cox and Toby Barlow, founded the idea for Write a House in 2013. Cox, a journalist who has experience in real estate blogging, and Barlow, who has written two successful fiction novels and works in local advertising, wanted to find a way to bring more writers to Detroit and develop a strong writing community. They figured this would interest writers and get them motivated to check out Detroit.
“With all of the reporting that goes on in the city, there just felt like there was a lot of writings in and about Detroit and we really wanted residents to tell their own stories about the city,” Cox explained.
Cox and Barlow bought two houses for $1,000 each in 2013 and they awarded the first house in November 2014, just 11 months after the organization launched. Since then, they have awarded three more homes, including the most recent to a Detroit native, Nandi Comer, this past May.
Along with awarding talented writers with a new home, Write a House renovates abandoned houses with the help of the Detroit Land Bank and their community partners. Houses take approximately six months to renovate, depending on the condition of the house.
According to Cox, Write a House received 220 applications during the last application round, and the writers have to go through a lengthy process. Applicants have to submit writing samples in either fiction, non-fiction, or poetry which are then judged by esteemed writers in those categories. After the judges choose finalists, the candidates then have to go through an interview process.
Because of the high demand, the organization hopes to expand in the next couple of years. Its goal is to award three homes a year, and have already awarded two this year.
“We would really like to expand as much as possible because like I said, 220 people applied for one house so it’s not like there is any shortage of demand,” Cox said.
For more information on the organization and how to either apply for residency or donate, please visit www.writeahouse.com.