How many schemes have there been to revitalize Detroit? Plenty, and while they have run the gamut from freight container condos to local food initiatives, Write A House may be the most specific: fixing up dilapidated housing stock in the struggling city, and giving the houses to deserving writers.

In the organization's words: "Write A House is a Detroit-based literary organization that uses the wide range of available home stock in Detroit to build up support for the literary arts in the city. It’s like a writers-in-residence program, but the writers get to keep the homes, forever."

The deal is this: A neighborhood that is blighted with abandoned homes was chosen as the place to develop an arts colony. Then, Write A House partnered with Young Detroit Builders, an organization that trains young people in construction and renovation. (So the project benefits both writers and the young people who will achieve new skills fixing up houses.) The group's first home (for which they are looking for funding via an Indiegogo campaign) is one of three homes the group has bought and will be fixing up — all within walking distance of each other, in an effort to build community. 

But will writers want to move to Detroit?

The organization is banking on it: "... writers might actually not want to move to Detroit. They might have fallen for the negative hype of the bankrupt city. They might think that it's better to stay in some unaffordable city instead of taking advantage of all we have to offer. We hope they don't; we hope they get on board. We're betting there are enough smart writers out there who see this opportunity for what it is."

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Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

A free house in Detroit (for writers only)
A nonprofit in Detroit wants to give abandoned, rehabbed houses to writers.