Write A House

Casey Rocheteau
User: Write a House / facebook

The Write A House program is a creative way to fill some of Detroit's empty houses with writers, journalists, and poets.

Take a vacant house, renovate it and then award it to a writer whose work has been judged worthy. The writer promises to live in the house for at least 75% of the time, to pay taxes and insurance, and to become a part of Detroit's literary scene. Do that for two years and the house is yours.

The first winner of a house is poet Casey Rocheteau. She'll be leaving Brooklyn to start her new life in her new house north of Hamtramck. She says she feels honored to be selected to live in the house. 

"Honestly, I love the house, and I'm very ,very excited, because one of the things about Brooklyn is it's really hard to find a yard of any sort," says Rocheteau.

Write A House will be taking another round of applications early next year.

* Listen to our conversation with Casey Rocheteau above.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr

What if you were a writer, a journalist, or a poet, and you were given a free house in Detroit?

You'd be an urban homesteader, living in the city and writing about it.

That's the idea behind a project called Write a House.

Journalist Sarah Cox is the co-founder of Write A House and explained how it works on Stateside.  

Listen to interview in link above.  

Andrew Kopietz

Writer's residencies are common, but Write A House offers a residency that might only be possible in a city like Detroit. The group renovates vacant houses and gives them away, for free, and forever. 

The unique program has opened up its application process, and in a few months, a panel of judges will select one fiction, nonfiction, or poetry writer to live in the inaugural house. 

Write A House Vice President Sarah Cox told Michigan Radio reporter Kate Wells that they want to draw more literary talent to Detroit.

Andrew Kopietz

If we could transport ourselves back to Detroit at its prime, we might barely recognize the city: The streets bustled with a population of nearly two million, lights shone in the storefronts, and the neighborhoods were full.

Here how Detroit looked in the 1920s:

Today, the story is well known.