New home for artists without housing opens in Detroit

Posted on Detroit Free Press by Duante Beddingfield on Dec. 22, 2023

A new home for artists struggling with housing has opened in northwest Detroit.

The Neighborhood Service Organization, one of metro Detroit’s largest social service groups addressing homelessness, worked with Detroit entertainment company The Right Productions to launch The Tommy Garrett House, named after internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Tommy Garrett, who overcame homelessness with the help of NSO.

The facility is a three-bedroom, 1,920-square-foot home designed to offer housing for up to six artists in an environment where they can build stability and safely create art in the heart of Detroit.

In a Dec. 18 dedication ceremony, NSO President and CEO Linda Little said the initiative was made possible through supporters of our Community of Hope weekend in July and embodies “NSO’s commitment to meet the evolving needs of our community.”

“Addressing the complex issue of homelessness is challenging,” Little said. “More than 1,500 people in Detroit experience homelessness on any given night. Despite nearly 6,000 households accessing housing assistance in 2022, a significant number are not officially considered homeless, but they lack access to safe and stable housing, resulting in a continuous cycle of transition.

“The overrepresentation of Black individuals among the homeless population, the prevalence of domestic violence and the median length of 69 days for homelessness highlight the challenge, emphasizing the need for comprehensive, long-term and affordable solutions, such as initiatives focused on permanent housing. The Tommy Garrett House was created to do just that for local artists.”

NSO and The Right Productions first collaborated last July when they worked with the city to establish the Community of Hope concert, which featured R&B artists Maxwell and Tamia and was held at The Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre. Funds raised during the weekend were dedicated to addressing homelessness by supporting services tailored to the needs of people without housing, including those within Detroit’s creative community.

“Sometimes you see a need and wish you had the ability to address it,” said Shahida Mausi, CEO of The Right Productions. “I had long wanted a way to provide housing and support services for artists of many genres. Having worked with artists for my entire career, I’ve seen the gaps in financial and mental health services in the creative community. I dreamt of a place where creative people could feel supported and cared for during difficult times. I shared my dream with Linda Little at NSO, who has the expertise to bring a dream into reality. I’m so grateful for this collaboration with NSO and the support of Maxwell and Kem, to see Tommy’s House become a reality.”

The second annual Community of Hope is scheduled for Aug. 2-4, 2024, and will feature two evenings of inspiration and performances by various musical artists, including headliner and Detroit native Kem, who also overcame homelessness. There will also be a Day of Hope, which will aim to connect metro Detroiters in need with community organizations that offer wraparound resources.

Contact Free Press arts and culture reporter Duante Beddingfield at dbeddingfield@freepress.com.

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