Is  Building
                             TO/IN CITIES, I
   I  The Excitement for Brownfields
    o
   T
J
    he Twin Cities Metropolitan Council Brownfields Pilot,
awarded by EPA, has partnered with the Minnesota Envi-
ronmental Initiative (MEI) and Twin Cities Habitat for Hu-
manity to perform  environmental assessments on 10
brownfields in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul,
Minnesota.  This partnership is opening the door to reuse of
the sites for affordable housing.  On February 13, 2002, EPA
signed a Memorandum of Understanding  with Habitat for
Humanity International to work in partnership to build en-
ergy-efficient homes  on former brownfields throughout the
country. Like many other cities in the United States, the Twin
Cities area suffers from a shortage of affordable housing.
Approximately 185,000 households in the metropolitan area
with incomes below $30,000 spend more than 30 percent of
their income on housing; such high housing costs have a dis-
proportionate impact on lower-income workers who play critical
roles in the community, such as child-care providers, bank
tellers, home health aides, and preschool teachers.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit affiliate of the
international Habitat for Humanity, produces affordable hous-
ing for families in need and has a mandate to dramatically
increase the number of homes it builds each year. To achieve
its goal, Twin Cities Habitat must identify large, affordable
properties on which to build multiple homes. Such properties
sometimes have presented environmental issues that Habitat
had no capability to address, and in the past the organization
had to pass on properties that had a hint of possible contami-
nation. MEI's role in the partnership has proven to be essen-
tial, as the nonprofit organization has considerable experience
in conducting brownfields redevelopment projects. MEI has
taken the organizational lead in this project, and the Twin Cit-
ies Metropolitan Council's EPA Brownfields Pilot grant has
allowed potential properties to  be assessed to ensure their
suitability for residential use.

                                        continued ^
                                            JUSTTHE FACTS:
                                               The Twin Cities metropolitan area contains 3,000
                                               acres of identified brownfields.
                                               While not all of the area's brownfields are suitable
                                               for residential reuse, the Brownfields Pilot verified
                                               through environmental assessments that several
                                               were  free from  contamination,  allowing
                                               homebuilding plans to proceed.
                                               The Brownfields Pilot has leveraged more than
                                               $415,000 for homebuilding projects thus far, as well
                                               as additional, in-kind environmental assessment
                                               work from a local consulting firm.
                                                                             lacityto
                                                 consider every location that has the
                                                possibility of providing housing that is
                                               affordable to low- and moderate-income
                                              people. Thanks to this collaboration [with
                                               the Brownfields Pilot and the Minnesota
                                                 Environmental Initiative], generously
                                             supported by the Environmental Protection
                                                 Agency, we are able  to do just that."

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        The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council oversees redevelopment for
        the seven-county metropolitan area, which has a population of 2.2
        million, and has identified 3,000 acres of brownfields within that
        area. While not all of these sites are suitable for residential reuse,
        the Pilot has verified through environmental assessments that sev-
        eral properties are free of contaminants, which has allowed Twin
        Cities Habitat to proceed with homebuilding plans. In addition to
        funding these site assessments, the Brownfields Pilot has lever-
        aged $415,361 for the project thus far, including in-kind contribu-
        tions of environmental assessment work from a local consulting
        firm, Braun Intertec.
                       CONTACTS:
                       Minnesota Environmental Initiative
                       (612) 334-3388
                       U.S. EPA-Region 5
                       (312) 353-2513
                       Visit the EPA Brownfields web site at:
                       http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/
        To date, three single-family homes have been built on one property at
        Nebraska and Arkwright Streets in  St. Paul by Habitat's WomenBuild
        project, which uses all-female volunteer crews.  This site is part of a Habitat
        development project comprised of eight single-family homes.  One of these homes was
        purchased by an immigrant woman whose teenage daughter encouraged her to apply for a
        Habitat home. The mother works full-time and was concerned that she would not be able to
        meet the "sweat equity" requirement  of contributing 300 hours of labor on the home, so her
        16-year-old daughter committed to do the sweat equity labor herself. The young woman
        provided the family's 300 hours by helping with the construction after school. The family will
        soon be moving into their new home, and the mother, Yeshi Lemu, recently expressed, "We
        are excited to move into our new home on Nebraska Avenue because we will have so much
        more room. Also, rent is very high right now in our city and when we are in our new home,
        it will be much more affordable."

        A fourth home on Stevens Avenue in Min-
        neapolis was also completed in fall
        2001.   The Stevens  Avenue
        house is in the densely devel-
        oped Whittier neighborhood
        of South Minneapolis,
        which has a population of
        15,247 residents, 46 per-
        cent of whom are minori-
        ties.  The median income
        of Whittier is lower than
        that of other Minneapolis
        neighborhoods.  However,
        there are many social services
        available in the neighborhood and
        there are nearby grocery stores  and
        restaurants.  Also within blocks of the
        Stevens Avenue home is the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Children's Theatre Com-
        pany, and less than one block away  is the recently developed Midtown Greenway, a bike
        path that runs through a rail corridor-turned-greenspace.

                                                                            continued  ^
Brownfields Success Story
Twin Cities, Minnesota
Solid Waste
and Emergency
Response (5105)
      EPA-500-F-02-036
             April 2002
www.epa.gov/brownfields/

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      All of the Habitat homes are being built with energy-effi-
      cient r25 insulation in the walls and mechanical ventila-
      tion to maintain indoor air quality. Furthermore, the State
      of Minnesota recently raised its building code for single-
      family residences, so these homes are being built to the
      strictest standards in the nation.

      The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council Brownfields Pilot
      and its partners hope to create an easily replicable model
      that will allow other affordable housing builders to similarly
      expand their capabilities. Stephen Seidel, executive director of
      Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, has said, "As we at Twin Cities Habitat strive to meet the ever-
      increasing need for affordable housing in our community, it is essential that we have the capacity to
      consider every location that has the possibility of providing housing that is affordable to low- and
      moderate-income people. Thanks to this collaboration [with the Brownfields Pilot and the Minnesota
      Environmental Initiative], generously supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, we are able
      to do just that."
 TWIN   CITIE
Brownfields Success Story
Twin Cities, Minnesota
Solid Waste
and Emergency
Response (5105)
     EPA-500-F-02-036
          April 2002
www.epa.gov/brownfields/

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