My road to Detroit was not paved in gold, with dancing fairies and singing elves leading the way. I decided to move to Detroit back in April of this year, and it has been a struggle for me to find the right home, get approved for it and come up with the money. There have been many setbacks along the way, so to say to you now that I will be a resident of the city of Detroit on Tuesday, October 11, 2011, is as great an honor as it is a relief.
A year ago, a lot of bad things happened to me in the span of about a week. First, I got robbed in my apartment in Pontiac. Someone asked me if they could use my phone, then stole my rent money off my desk. I was struggling to keep up with the payments on my large two bedroom apartment anyway, after my roommate got pregnant and moved out, and my income had been gradually decreasing. I was at the deadline, one day away from being evicted, waiting for my paycheck to come the next day and had all the money I saved sitting right there in a blank money order that hadn’t been filled out yet, just waiting to be cashed. The next day I went to go pay my rent only to find the money order was missing and I was soon to be out on the streets.
If that weren’t bad enough, my father (who I worked for at the time) told me that he didn’t have the money to pay me anymore, and was going to have to lay me off. To top things off, my dog got very sick and I had to put him to sleep. At just two months away from my 30th birthday, I would be moving back in with my parents; homeless, unemployed, lovesick over the loss of my dog, Eduardo, and full of shame.
Needless to say it’s not easy to find an apartment when you are receiving unemployment benefits and you just got evicted. I have always had great rental history, and have always received good referrals from my landlords in the past. It was not the position I imagined I would be in at this point in my life.
I started looking at apartments and rooms for rent in Detroit in April of last year, after deciding that I would move to Detroit after the great experiences I had with the SXSW Road Trip. We had spent a day in the city making a video about all the great things we loved about Detroit, and it hit me that I really should be living there. It was time to put my money where my mouth was and become a part of the transformation that is happening.
One of the first places I looked at was The Leland, formerly a hotel now being used primarily as an apartment building. I used to know a DJ that lived there, and he had talked about how they gave him an apartment that he was able to fix up and live in for cheap, so I checked it out. The Leland is a beautiful old building that has seen its better days. When I first started going to Detroit, there were three night clubs operating out of it, and it was still a Radisson Hotel. There was a gothic industrial night club called City Club on one side, a lounge-style house and techno club on the other side called Studio 54, and the basement was an underground raver spot called The Labyrinth. My first-ever DJing gig was at Studio 54, which is now closed, as is The Labyrinth, but City Club is still going strong.
At one point, I was all set to move into The Leland. I had saved up the money I thought I needed to move in and I was ready to go, but when I stopped by to put down my deposit, they were at capacity, and had raised their prices. This was the first of many setbacks I ran into in my quest to move to Detroit.
I’m not going to go into everything that went wrong over the last five months, because it all seems a bit trivial right now. Yesterday, I put down the deposit on my new place, and I’m getting an even better deal than I originally bargained for. My new apartment is at The Leland, and it’s something they call a “fixer-upper”. It is a tiny 270 square foot studio, that hasn’t been maintained since the last person moved out. They will take care of electrical, plumbing and appliances, and I have to do any cosmetic work that needs to be done. The kitchen includes a small stove oven, and a mini-fridge. There is a small bathroom with a shower, and the rest is just open living space.
I’m determined to make this work because of the low price that I’m getting on the apartment. There is no lease either, so I will be able to evaluate my options on a monthly basis. What really drew me to The Leland, however, was the location. It is located on the edge of Downtown Detroit, near Corktown, within walking distance of the Rosa Parks Bus Terminal and the Times Square people mover station. Secured parking is inexpensive as well, however I am presented with many options to be able to roam about the city more efficiently, and will be riding my bike more as well.
I’m also not concerned about the small amount of space I will have, because Detroit will be my new playground. I am already starting to get involved with Omnicorp Detoit Hackerspace, Detroit Fashion Collective and 5 Elements Gallery, which will provide me with the space and resources that I will need to get involved with the community, create things and get work done on a daily basis. Not to mention all of the great parks, bars, restaurants and galleries where I will be able to enjoy the culture of my city, let loose and have fun.
I would also like to invite everyone to come and see me in Detroit and join me for happy hour at The Leland over $1 PBRs. If you have any questions about living in Detroit, working in Detroit, or any of the projects that I’m involved with, please contact me and arrange a time to meet.
Of course, I will continue to stay active on this blog and respond to discussions on the forum here as well.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout my hard times. Without this great community that we have built together, I would not still be here, and I wouldn’t be so proud to be involved in what is happening in this city. I hope that more of you will make the decision to live here as I have.