Environmental Response Fund

Environmental Response Fund (ERF) grants fund the assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites where conditions present a threat to human health or the environment, but where lack funding and added environmental costs hinder site improvements or redevelopment.

ERF grants are used for a variety of activities that provide community benefit, including assessment and cleanup of groundwater and evaluation and abatement of asbestos and lead-based paint.

Priority is placed on locations that are intended as public or green spaces, establish affordable and moderately priced housing, and promote economic development.

To date, Hennepin County has awarded 344 ERF grants totaling more than $48 million. See map of all project awarded in Minneapolis (PDF) and suburban Hennepin County (PDF).

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Applying for a grant

Grants are awarded semi-annually. Grant applications are due by May 1* and November 1 each year.

*Applications for the spring 2016 funding round are due Monday, May 2.

Applying for an ERF grant

To apply for an ERF grant:

Funding available

Approximately $1 – 2 million is distributed every grant round. Individual funding commitments vary depending on the project, the amount of available grant funding and the list of applications received.

Project selection

ERF grants for assessment and cleanup are awarded on a competitive basis, and priority is given to the following types of projects:

  • Contaminated or potentially contaminated sites where the preferred end use is publicly owned property, such as park space, schools, and non-profit or municipal facilities.
  • Affordable and moderate market-rate housing projects where contamination issues preclude redevelopment.
  • Infill brownfield properties or orphan sites that are generally not attractive to large redevelopments but disrupt the fabric of community life and contribute to blight.
  • Projects that incorporate sustainable activities and features in the project design, construction and operation.

Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants for ERF include municipalities, economic development agencies, housing and redevelopment authorities, non-profit organizations, public companies, and private for-profit companies. ERF grants are not available to non-local government responsible parties.

ERF grants are available for the investigation or cleanup of non-petroleum contamination or petroleum-related contamination that is not eligible for reimbursement by the Minnesota Petrofund.

Additional funding sources

Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund

Hennepin County also has an EPA-funded Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund program available to assist with the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites. A grant and loan package can be a favorable way to tackle larger projects.

Minnesota Brownfields Resource Guide

For more information about grants and loans available to help cleanup contaminated lands, see the Minnesota Brownfields 2016 Resource Guide (PDF).

Information for grant recipients

Forms for Environmental Response Fund grant recipients

Grant recipients need to complete the following forms:

  1. Download and complete a disbursement form to request grant funds:
  2. Download and complete an annual progress report (DOCX).

Instructions for submitting disbursements

To submit disbursements:

  • Send a draft disbursement request and all back up information to the Hennepin County Environment and Energy contact person to whom you currently submit requests. Environment and Energy staff will review the request and, if the request if acceptable, obtain a purchase order number that will be sent to you via your preferred communication methods (email, mail or fax).
  • Once you receive a purchase order number, enter the number on the disbursement request form, sign the form and submit the final request form to Hennepin County Accounts Payable, PO Box 1388, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1388 or OBF.Internet@co.hennepin.mn.us
  • Send a copy of the final signed disbursement request form (do not resubmit the backup material) to your Hennepin County Environment and Energy contact person so they can monitor the progress of your request.

How communities benefit

Environmental Response Fund (ERF), which is funded by a county mortgage registry and deed tax, provided communities with funding necessary to assess and clean up contaminated properties, which spurs economic growth, creates jobs, revitalizes neighborhoods and leverage private and public investment. 

Economic growth

Since being established in November 2001, ERF has funded 344 projects totaling more than $48 million.

These grants help:

Create jobs

Grant-assisted projects have results in the creation or retention of approximately 9,500 jobs.

Revitalize neighborhoods and increase property values and tax revenue

Property values of completed ERF-aided projects increased more than $437 million compared to pre-assessment and cleanup values, which is an 11 to 1 return on investment. In addition, from 2003 to 2012, completed ERF-aided projects generated $64 million more in property taxes than was generated by these same properties prior to ERF involvement.

ERF funding can be the critical piece that brings redevelopment projects and businesses to vacant properties. By transforming sites from public safety nuisances into community assets, redeveloping vacant properties can reduce crime.

Leverage public and private investment

ERF has leveraged $1.7 billion in privately funded development costs.

The need for ERF continues

Hennepin County has more than 19 percent of the state’s Superfund sites, 19 percent of the state’s petroleum release sites, 41 percent of the state’s voluntary investigation and cleanup sites, and 8 percent of the state’s dump sites, totaling more than 4,300 sites of concern.

Recently awarded grants

Grants awarded July 2016

In July 2016, Hennepin County awarded nine Environmental Response Fund grants totaling more than $1 million. The grants will fund a variety of environmental cleanup measures, including contaminated soil assessment and cleanup, contaminated groundwater monitoring, and asbestos and lead-based paint abatement. The cleaned up properties will be redeveloped for a variety of uses, including affordable and market-rate housing, commercial space, public recreation facilities, and parks.

The following projects were awarded:

  • Brooklyn Center Economic Development Authority (former Howe Fertilizer, Brooklyn Center project): $60,000 for assistance with required contaminated groundwater monitoring activities.
  • City of Minneapolis (PRG I, Minneapolis project): $129,565 to assist asbestos and lead-based paint abatement at single and multifamily affordable rental homes in multiple buildings.
  • City of Richfield (Lyndale Gardens Residential Development, Richfield project): $115,400 for contaminated soil cleanup associated with construction of multifamily, moderately-priced, market-rate residential units.
  • Dominium Development and Acquisition, LLC or affiliated entity (Fort Snelling Upper Post project): $81,510 for completion of asbestos and lead-based paint surveys and subsurface soil assessment in preparation for the renovation of the historic buildings into future affordable housing units.
  • Hennepin County Community Works (lead hazard control program): $200,000 for assistance with a countywide program that performs assessment and abatement of lead-based paint hazards in homes with sensitive populations, such as pregnant women and children under the age of six.
  • Lyndale Gardens, LLC or affiliated entity (Lyndale Gardens Shoreline Development, Richfield project): $117,436 for contaminated soil cleanup associated with construction of a public recreation space including performance, urban agricultural, and walking features.
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (Bossen Field, Minneapolis project): $209,740 for contaminated soil cleanup during park improvements.
  • St. Louis Park Economic Development Authority (Morrie’s Dealership, St. Louis Park project): $45,045 for contaminated soil cleanup associated with replacement of vacant commercial buildings with a new automobile dealership.
  • St. Louis Park Economic Development Authority (Parkway 25 Redevelopment, St. Louis Park project): $60,000 for contaminated soil cleanup associated with development of new multifamily, market-rate housing units and ground-level commercial space. 

Grants awarded January 2016

In January 2016, Hennepin County awarded eight Environmental Response Fund grants totaling $1.2 million to fund asbestos and lead paint abatement and contaminated soil assessment and cleanup at contaminated sites where the added environmental costs hinder site improvements or redevelopment. Environmental Response Fund grants support a variety of projects that promote economic development by increasing the tax base, creating permanent jobs, enhancing greenspace and developing affordable housing.

The following projects were awarded:

  • City of Golden Valley: $152,000 for contaminated soil cleanup at the DeCola Ponds Project, which will be new stormwater management structures in a flood-prone area.
  • City of Lakes Community Land Trust, Minneapolis: $115,000 for asbestos and lead paint abatement associated with the renovation of four houses that will be owner-occupied, affordable housing. 
  • City of Mound Housing and Redevelopment Authority: $390,982 for asbestos and lead paint abatement associated with the renovation of affordable rental housing units at Indian Knoll Manor. 
  • City of St. Louis Park: $50,000 for contaminated soil cleanup associated with the expansion of an outdoor recreation center. 
  • Hennepin County Resident and Real Estate Services: $250,000 to demolish hazardous and contaminated buildings on the tax-forfeit, former Universal Plating facility in Minneapolis. 
  • Minnesota Brownfields, countywide: $200,000 to continue the Brownfields Gap Financing Program, which provides small environmental assessment grants to municipalities and non-profit organizations. 
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board: $50,000 for disposal of contaminated soil that will be excavated during construction of a walking and biking  trail on the east bank of the Mississippi River in northeast Minneapolis. 
  • Perspectives, Inc., St. Louis Park: $61,000 for contaminated soil cleanup associated with development of a new parking lot that will facilitate the expansion of Perspective’s adjacent family center.
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