House passes Rep. Harris’ Gary cleanup legislation

January 31, 2018 Earl Harris Jr.

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House members today passed legislation authored by State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago) that will help Gary take a huge step in cleaning up thousands of uninhabitable homes within its city limits.

House Bill 1318 allows Gary to create a demolition and construction site where recyclable materials from abandoned homes can be placed after the structures are demolished.

“Over 20 percent of the homes in Gary are uninhabitable, and officials have received a grant that will begin the process of bringing those homes down,” Rep. Harris said. “The vacancy problem poses a significant economic challenge to residents, and the city is imposing an aggressive plan to demolish the vacant and abandoned homes that will help raise home values for Gary residents.

“I want to emphasize that Gary does not want to establish a landfill within the city limits to accept garbage or hazardous material that is a risk to human health,” Rep. Harris commented.

Representative Harris’ bill focuses on reducing the cost of demolition in order to help clean up Gary, while also helping create more jobs for citizens of Gary.

He noted there is a significant cost factor involving the disposing of and transportation of the construction debris taken from houses: brick, scrap lumber, stone, and the like.

“The cost of this transportation is about $4,000 per home, and with 6,000 homes slated in the demolition plan, the transport cost alone would be over $20 million,” he continued. “Not only will this demolition and construction site help the city save money, but it will also help create more job opportunities in the city.

“A critical part of the effort is creation of the debris site, where we can place items like stone, wood and bricks that can be used again,” he said. “This proposal will help reduce the costs of demolishing the buildings, and provide savings in reducing transportation costs in sending these materials out. In fact, there is a very great possibility that the city would be able to reuse these materials to create more housing in Gary.”

The measure now moves to the Indiana Senate for consideration.