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The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program provides funding to support community-based organizations in collaboration and partnership with local stakeholder groups to develop and implement solutions that address environmental and/or public health issues for underserved communities. Partners can include local businesses and industry, local government, medical providers, and academia. The EPA considers underserved communities to be those with environmental justice concerns and/or vulnerable populations including minority, low income, rural, tribal, and indigenous populations. Awarded projects must demonstrate use of the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Model to support their collaborative efforts. The EJCPS Program aims to help build the capacity of communities with environmental justice concerns and to create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships that will continue to improve local environments in the future.
Ten awards are made by the EPA on an annual basis, one award per EPA region. Award amounts do not exceed $120,000 for a two-year project period. Cooperative agreements will be awarded to local community-based organizations, tribes, and tribal organizations seeking to address environmental and public health concerns in local underserved communities through collaboration with other stakeholders, such as local businesses and industry, local government, medical providers, and academia. The following actions should be taken in order to deploy EJCPS funds for residential lead remediation:
- Convene community residents and stakeholders, through a community-based organization, to identify specific environmental justice-related needs. If this process identifies concerns or needs around addressing lead hazards in housing, consider partnerships that would best advance solutions to these issues.
- Identify both a principal community-based organization and a diverse set of partners who can address lead hazards in housing. Leverage existing partnerships, but also use this opportunity to partner outside of traditional health, housing and energy agencies in your community.
- Identify specific goals and outcomes for these partnerships with input from community residents and other stakeholders. Utilize the tools that EPA provides to maintain a focus on increasing equity and environmental justice through your efforts.
- Apply for the funds through the EJCS annual NOFA.
Central Maine Community Health Corporation (CMCHC) received these funds in 2018 to partner with other community organizations in Lewiston, ME. These partners are working with underserved community residents of downtown Lewiston who experience extreme poverty and disproportionate housing-related health impacts including lead exposure and asthma. The goal of this effort is to increase the number of healthy residential housing units available and empower those residents to access lead hazard reduction and healthy housing resources.
Project activities include: 1) creation of a Safe Housing Public Database of local rental units that have passed a recent health inspection, 2) outreach and education for the underserved community residents in downtown Lewiston to notify them of new resources for finding safe housing, 3) recurring First-time Investment Property Owner workshops, 4) creating a Landlord Network for landlords and other housing stakeholders, 5) creating a Rental Registration and Inspection Program in Lewiston; and 6) marketing and promotion of local rental property owners who are working to provide safe housing.
This project was born out of a community-driven effort and CMCHC’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, which engages community residents in identifying the need for leveraged funds to support local landlords in improving their housing stock and remediating environmental housing hazards. Through convening diverse stakeholders, CMCHC identified and implemented strategies that provide tools and resources to landlords to create healthier housing and empower the underserved community to access safe housing.