Commissioner Mingus Mapps today praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for awarding Portland a $500,000 grant to continue its successful brownfield program that helps transform vacant properties where contamination is a concern into sites ready for redevelopment.
“We’re thrilled that Portland has been selected for this grant, made possible through the bipartisan infrastructure law.,” Commissioner Mapps said, “These dollars will help turn polluted properties into productive ones, and I’m particularly proud that the City will focus this grant on areas of East Portland and North and Northeast Portland to help turn vacant sites into affordable housing and other needed uses.”
The federal grant, announced by the EPA yesterday, provides three years of funding for the City’s Brownfield Program to continue offering environmental site assessments for neighborhood commercial properties that were previously used as gas stations, dry cleaners and other commercial uses where past contamination is a barrier to redevelopment.
The two focus areas for this grant are projects that benefit residents of East Portland, and North and Northeast Portland sites that support affordable housing.
Historic uses that left behind soil and groundwater contamination can continue to impact a property decades after those businesses disappear. Portland’s Brownfield Program offers current property owners financial and technical assistance to address this legacy. The program will use EPA grant funds to help property owners determine what contamination is present on a site, and make a plan for cleanup that protects new site users and the environment.
With past EPA grants, Portland’s Brownfield Program has helped more than 70 projects, including sites that are now parks and gardens, small businesses, and community nonprofit organizations.
Affordable housing is one of the key plans for this new grant. Fourteen former brownfields in the Program have been cleaned up and redeveloped as affordable housing, providing 770 affordable units.
One former brownfield currently in redevelopment is the Isaka Shamsud-Din Estates in Northeast Portland. Sabin Community Development Corporation used Brownfield Program assistance funded by a previous EPA grant to deal with environmental issues on this former gas station site, clearing the way for reuse that will create 29 units of affordable housing. The Estates will employ the N/NE Housing Preference Policy, addressing the harmful impacts of urban renewal by giving preference to housing applicants with generational ties to North/Northeast Portland.
The EPA grant awards, supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, are distributing $254.5 million in brownfield funding to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties. Portland is one of eight recipients in Oregon.