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 307 ERF grants totaling nearly $45 million.

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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.

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 Environmental Services 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 (DOC).

Instructions for submitting disbursements

To submit disbursements:

  • Send a draft disbursement request and all back up information to the Hennepin County Environmental Services contact person to whom you currently submit requests. Environmental Services 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 methos (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 Environmental Services 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 ERF was established in November 2001, nearly $45 million has been awarded for 307 grants through ERF. 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 2014, the Hennepin County Board awarded 11 grants totaling $1.4 million for the evaluation and cleanup of contaminated sites. The grants will fund a variety of cleanup measures, including soil and groundwater evaluation, asbestos and lead-based paint assessment and abatement, well sealing, and contaminated soil cleanup at projects. The cleaned up properties will be redeveloped for a variety of uses, including affordable and market-rate housing, hotels, a public library and office and retail complexes.

The following grants were awarded:

  • 9 Plymouth, Minneapolis: $21,835 to the City of Minneapolis for contaminated soil cleanup to assist with development of a new retail building on a vacant property.
  • Boeser site, Minneapolis: $260,000 to the City of Minneapolis for contaminated soil cleanup and underground storage tank removal necessary for redevelopment of a vacant commercial lot into a transit-oriented market-rate and affordable-housing building.
  • Commons at Penn, Minneapolis: $195,700 to Building Blocks of Minnesota for abatement, demolition, dewatering and soil cleanup for redevelopment of several vacant and under-utilized parcels into a new affordable housing building.
  • Excelsior Library, Excelsior: $66,315 to Hennepin County Property Services for contaminated fill cleanup for construction of a new public library. Since November 2001, the project has received a total of $43.9 million through 307 grants.
  • Miller Bag Building, Minneapolis: $55,071 to the City of Minneapolis for abatement and contaminated fill cleanup for redevelopment of a under-utilized industrial property into new retail, office and warehouse space.
  • Minnesota 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 of sites throughout Hennepin County.
  • Penn and American Phase 2 Redevelopment, Bloomington: $154,550 to the City of Bloomington Housing and Redevelopment Authority for contaminated soil cleanup needed to complete the development of an extended stay hotel, retail space, restaurant and grocery store.
  • Plymouth Building Hotel, Minneapolis: $25,000 to the City of Minneapolis for private well sealing associated with the renovation of an underutilized office building into a new hotel.
  • Project for Pride in Living, Inc. (PPL), Minneapolis: $287,650 for the removal of lead-paint and asbestos hazards during the renovation of existing affordable housing units at Double Flats, Elliot Apartments, Central Neighborhood Apartments, and College House Recapitalization.
  • Seward Commons Phase III, Minneapolis: $110,000 to the City of Minneapolis for abatement, demolition and contaminated soil cleanup to complete development of market-rate housing necessary to support the previous affordable housing phases of the project.
  • The Xenia, Golden Valley: $101,999 to the City of Golden Valley for contaminated soil cleanup for a housing redevelopment.
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