USA Today: We Will Pay You To Live Here

Campus Martius Park has proved to be a bright spot in downtown Detroit, helping to revitalize its troubled urban core with a skating rink, fountain, gardens and French bistro.(Photo: Nathan Weber)


Other cities have taken a more aggressive approach to wooing young talent. Some are led by city government, others by corporations looking to attract new employees, others by nonprofits.

Last year, activists in once-bankrupt Detroit launched Write a House in an effort to revitalize a city littered with the abandoned shells of once-glorious houses. Their schtick: to give away a house to a writer who wanted to move to Detroit. In November, Brooklyn poet Casey Rocheteau moved to the city, the first to win a house in the national contest. (There will be another giveaway contest; Write a House will start taking applications on April 27.)

Companies like Quicken Loans and Compuware launched a "Live Downtown" program offering real estate incentives for their employees. New homeowners can receive up to $20,000 in a forgivable loan toward the purchase of a downtown Detroit residence, while renters get a $2,500 in their first year renting. Over the past four years, Quicken has either hired or relocated 12,500 employees to work in the downtown center, where they can take advantage of the company's housing program, according to Josh McManus, director of "assorted and diverse things" at Rock Ventures, the parent company of Quicken Loans. (Yes, that is his actual title.)

"You do need to attract tech talent; a lot of our companies are technology companies that require specific talent. But there's also a clear sense of being part of a bigger mission, to be part of the next phase of a great American city," said McManus, who moved to Detroit five years ago and has taken advantage of his company's housing incentives.

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