In 1998, ILSR met with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to explain how programs like HUD’s Hope VI (which provides hundreds of millions of dollars annually to demolish buildings) could use deconstruction to renovate public housing in an environmentally-sound manner, while helping HUD meet its Section 3 (community investment) obligations. At HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo’s urging, ILSR implemented a pilot project to demonstrate the viability of deconstruction
ILSR worked with the Hartford Housing Authority (HHA) and Manafort Brothers, Inc., a local construction and demolition (C&D) enterprise, to deconstruct six units of the Stowe Village Public Housing Complex. HHA provided $50,000 above traditional demolition costs in order to support this deconstruction training program. The returns were extraordinary. Nine worker-trainees were drawn from Hartford public housing; some had grown up in the very units they were deconstructing. Training, conducted by the Local 230 of the Laborers International Union and ILSR, was completed in six weeks, by which time the project had:
- deconstructed 6 units (8,250 square feet) at Stowe Village
- recovered and found markets for all recovered materials, generating $9,000 in sales
- trained workers for thousands less than the HUD-approved training costs
- forged alliances among the public and private sectors and national and local unions
- established a 51% worker-owned deconstruction enterprise (the Hartford Community Deconstruction Service Company)
- placed public housing residents in new, permanent, full-time, family-wage jobs
- created home ownership opportunities for low-income families residents
- reunited families through HHA’s award-winning Family Reunification Program.
In addition to the direct benefits to the city of Hartford and the residents of Stowe Village, the project proved that deconstruction can be a viable complement or alternative to demolition (in this case costing 33% less than demolition), while creating new jobs and attracting new businesses and investment.
For a printable summary of the accomplishments of the Hartford project, please see Deconstruction at Work.