EPA awards $300K to support assessment of housing units on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation (Mont.)
Brownfields grant to assess homes for potential contaminants prior to reuse
DENVER - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding the Fort Belknap Community Economic Development Corporation a $300,000 Brownfields assessment grant to conduct environmnetal assessments on homes that will be used to provide much-needed residences for Tribal members on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana. The Fort Belknap Reservation, home to the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes, is among 149 communities selected to receive grant awards totaling $64,623,553 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) grant programs.
EPA is providing the Fort Belknap Community Economic Development Corporation the Brownfields grant to conduct environmental assessments of 30 houses purchased by the Tribe from Malstrom Air Force Base for renovation into tribal housing. Though structurally sound, the homes potentially contain environmental hazards, including asbestos and lead-based paint, and require assessment prior to renovation and occupancy. These homes are a priority for reuse as there is a shortage of quality housing on the reservation, with 300 families on a housing waiting list. After assessment, cleanup and renovation, the homes will be moved to the new Eagle Valley Estates development.
“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas for redevelopment that fall within Opportunity Zones.”
“EPA is focused on helping our Tribal partners address critical environmental assessment and cleanup needs and create new opportunities for families,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “This Brownfields grant will help the Fort Belknap community properly assess these structures and make them available for reuse as much-needed housing.”
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, Brownfields grants have been shown to:
- Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.
- Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5 and 15% following cleanup.
One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
List of applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants
EPA booklet “Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose, Improving Local Economies in Communities with Brownfield Sites”: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-06/documents/bf_booklet.pdf
For more on the Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding
For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields