Group Wants To Divert Construction Supplies To The Needy

'Win-win' Proposal Would Channel Material To Low-income Housing

September 29, 1991|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Useful building materials are being dumped in landfills, while groups that rehabilitate low-income housing scratch for supplies.

The Carroll County Housing Coalition wants to intercept the unused materials, such as lumber, pipe and drywall, and wants a Baltimore organization to help.

Members met last week to discuss hooking up with Loading Dock, a central Baltimore clearinghouse for unused building supplies.

The coalition wants to direct non-profit housing groups to Loading Dock for low-cost building supplies to rehabilitate low-income housing in Carroll.

The group also wants area builders to direct leftover building materials to the clearinghouse, rather than to the county's landfills.

"It's an almost free way to reduce landfill waste . . . anduse (the materials) for low-income housing," said Karen Blandford, housing director for Westminster city government and a member of the coalition.

The non-profit Loading Dock began operation seven years ago in a garage but now occupies a 21,000-square-foot warehouse on Gwynn Falls Parkway, said assistant director Leslie Kirkwood.

The Loading Dock accepts donations of leftover building materials -- anything from paint to plumbing supplies -- mainly from builders and developers, but also from home-improvement buffs, small contractors and building-supply businesses.

The materials are then made available to low-income housing advocacy groups, churches and other non-profit agencies for about one-third of the retail cost or less.

Donors can receive tax breaks equaling dealer cost of the materials, plus up to one-third of any mark-up cost.

Since it opened in 1984, Loading Dock has handled some 21 tons of building materials, Kirkland said.

"It's growing incredibly each year," she said.

The Carroll coalition wants to organize collection of leftover materials for delivery to Loading Dock, and get the word out to county groups about the availability of low-cost building supplies.

Such materials could be put to use in Carroll's family shelters, low-income housing for seniors and disabled citizens, and homeless shelters, Blandford said.

Aside from potential tax breaks, builders could cut dumping fees paid to deposit scrap in landfills, Blandford said.

"We think it's an absolutely win-win situation," Blandford said.

She said a partnership with Loading Dock is just an idea now, and that the coalition would need cooperation from the county government, among other quarters, to arrange drop-off days at Carroll landfills.

County Recycling ManagerDwight A. Copenhaver attended the coalition meeting to gather information. He said he will discuss the idea with other county officials in coming weeks.

"It has possibilities," Copenhaver said Thursday.

In addition to providing building materials, Loading Dock also conducts workshops to show low-income fixer-uppers how to use them.

At the free sessions, instruction is offered on topics ranging from basic plumbing to installing drywall and windows.

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