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U.S. EPA pilot program results in affordable housing for Oakland

Release Date: 10/10/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

OAKLAND, Calif. -- On Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003 at 3:00 p.m., East Bay Habitat for Humanity will be welcoming four families to their new homes at 2662 Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland.

The property was made available for this affordable housing development through a partnership between the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the state of California, the city of Oakland, and the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health. Because this corner lot was once a gas station, the city and the other agencies worked in partnership to investigate and clean up contamination to make the property ready for reuse.

Redevelopment of former gas stations and other former industrial properties is often hindered by the presence or potential presence of pollution. These vacant or underutilized properties are referred to as "Brownfields." Because of the increasing number of Brownfield sites throughout the country, the EPA began providing grants and assistance for assessment and cleanup of properties to encourage redevelopment of those properties on a trial basis. On Jan. 11, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act which provides up to $200 million per year for five years to assist communities and non-profits in efforts to assess and clean up Brownfield Sites.

East Bay Habitat for Humanity creates home ownership opportunities for low-income families by building decent, affordable housing. The families selected for the Fruitvale Avenue Development worked many hours alongside volunteers from the community to help build their own homes. As a result, the families will purchase their homes from East Bay Habitat through a zero interest mortgage and their monthly mortgage payments will be used to fund construction of future Habitat homes.

The Fruitvale Avenue property is one of the first projects to receive federal grant funds for assessment and cleanup of petroleum from federally regulated underground storage tanks. The EPA's trial grants program for underground storage tanks -- called the USTFields Program -- is now being incorporated into the EPA's overall Brownfields Grant Program.

The deadline for applying for this year's round of Federal Brownfields Grants is Dec. 4, 2003.

Further information about U.S. EPA's Brownfields program can be found at:
Information on California's Brownfields program can be found at:
For more information on East Bay Habitat for Humanity visit: