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Outrage: Housing Authority Wants to Ban Clotheslines

The Greenwich Housing Authority,which oversees the senior residence where McDaniel lives, wants to ban clotheslines. The reason: The agency cited safety concerns in a letter sent to residents in July to announce the new policy. But when McDaniel and other residents complained, the housing authority changed its tune, blaming aesthetic concerns instead.

Either way, McDaniel is fuming. “I don’t know what’s wrong with them,” she says of the agency.

Although McDaniel’s community has four washers and four dryers available for use, the retired school bus driver prefers the old-fashioned method of air-drying her sheets and blankets. “I love the smell,” she says. “It’s just fresh, clean.” What’s more, she adds, when she polled her neighbors, none was bothered by the presence of a clothesline.

The rallying cry of McDaniel and her neighbors is picking up steam. Project Laundry List, an environmental group that promotes the use of clotheslines, wrote a letter to the executive director of the housing authority, Anthony Johnson, asking him to reconsider the policy.

The group, based in Concord, N.H., says using clotheslines can save people 15 to 20 percent on their electric bills. Plus, it says, dryers not only are costly and bad for the environment, they also cause 17,000 fires, $200 million in property damage and 15 deaths each year.

“It’s ridiculous that it’s come to this,” says Alexander Lee, executive director of Project Laundry List. “Using clotheslines needs to become the eco-chic behavior. When you look at the amount of death and destruction wrought by dryer fires compared to the one or two people who walk into a clothesline, it’s crazy.”

Johnson and other housing authority representatives did not return calls requesting comment.

Michelle Diament is a frequent contributor to theAARP Bulletin.

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