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Ask Renee: Salvaging demolished homes (part 2)

How can you stop entire homes from going into the dump?


Hi Renee,

My question for ILG, HEC, etc, is why isn't Indianapolis salvaging so much as a single brick from all the homes it's demolishing?


Additional background information: Gary bought two blighted properties and is trying to fix them up. There is a house on the same street that is slated for demolition and he would like to have some of the materials inside to use in the rehab of his properties, but has been told that he may not enter the demo house to salvage materials. He believes he witnessed a house being demolished by Ray’s Trash and nothing was salvaged.

[Editor's Note: Renee weighed in on this question last week, if you would like to read the first part of this click here.]

Hi Gary,

I asked a couple of local organizations that have been involved with recycling and neighborhood redevelopment about this issue. Here’s what they had to say:

RecycleForce, who has considered starting a deconstruction arm of their services in the past, says there is a lot of interest, but no funding available. Gregg Keesling says, “the homes that are being torn down have very little recoverable value and it would require a sizeable subsidy.”

Renew Indianapolis, who breathes life into abandoned and blighted properties, confirms that funding is the biggest challenge. Deconstruction and salvage projects require specific, hard-to-get insurance and staff to manage the contractors and grant administration. Federal bidding rules are also a barrier to their desire to salvage materials.

Know that I don’t necessarily like these answers – but I do understand them. I personally believe that environmental impacts should sometimes be considered more important than economic impacts. As with so many environmental issues, government and businesses seem short-sighted and seem to disregard the long-term impacts. It’s frustrating when money is the reason that the most environmentally-friendly action is not taken.

I also know that you can accomplish a lot more with thoughtful, respectful activism and diligent hard work than confrontation and accusations. I hope someone with your passion for recovery and rehabilitation (of materials and neighborhoods) will be a strong and productive voice in finding a solution.

Piece out,


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