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 328 ERF grants totaling $46.3 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.

*2015 application due dates:

  • Applications for the spring 2015 funding round are due on Monday, May 4, 2015
  • Applications for the fall 2015 funding round are due on Monday, November 2, 2015.

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 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 328 projects totaling more than $46 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

In January 2015, the county awarded nine Environmental Response Fund grants totaling more than $1 million were awarded. The grants will fund a variety of assessment and cleanup measures, including soil and groundwater evaluation, asbestos and lead-based paint abatement, contaminated soil and groundwater cleanup. The projects support economic developing by increasing the tax base, constructing new development, creating permanent jobs, enhancing green space, and creating market-rate and affordable housing. Cleaned up properties will provide for the renovation or construction of 131 affordable housing units, development of a new daycare facility and improvements at a park. 

The following grants were awarded:

  • Brownfields Gap Financing Program, various locations: $150,000 to Minnesota Brownfields to assist non-profit organizations, community groups and public entities with abatement, investigation and/or cleanup at sites throughout Hennepin County.
  • Centennial Lake Promenade, Edina: $39,000 to the City of Edina for cleanup, excavation and disposal of contaminated soil relating to the installation of storm water management features and the improvement of the existing park.
  • City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT), Minneapolis: $170,000 to CLCLT for asbestos and lead-paint abatement during rehabilitation of seven affordable housing properties.
  • Clare Terrace, Robbinsdale: $7,000 to Clare Housing to install a vapor mitigation system at a new, 36-unit, affordable and supportive housing building for HIV/AIDS residents.
  • Hawthorne EcoVillage Apartments, Minneapolis: $227,700 to the City of Minneapolis for contaminated soil cleanup and soil vapor mitigation related to the development of 75 affordable rental housing units with subgrade parking.
  • Leef Park, formerly Leef Services, Minneapolis: $99,390 to the City of Minneapolis for asbestos abatement and contaminated soil, soil vapor and ground water cleanup to complete the renovation of an existing vacant industrial building into 60 units of for-sale housing.
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) - Northeast Park West Fields, Minneapolis: $173,000 to MPRB. The soil at the park is contaminated and the MPRB plans to improve the fields by excavating and disposing of the upper three feet of contaminated soil, replacing it with clean soil, and adding an additional foot of clean soil to assist with required grading and drainage needs.
  • New Horizon Academy, Minneapolis: $102,610 to City of Minneapolis for the cleanup of petroleum-contaminated soil, soil vapor and contaminated groundwater relating to the construction of a new daycare facility.
  • Washington and Chicago Redevelopment, formerly Grainger Building and OSF Parking Lot, Minneapolis: $60,000 to City of Minneapolis for cleanup of ground water contaminated with chlorinated solvents, petroleum and soil fill debris. After cleanup, this site will be mixed-use residential and commercial with below-grade parking.
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