LISC supports Senate BUILD Act to eliminate blight in low-income neighborhoods


WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 20, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — A bipartisan Senate bill–The BUILD Act–introduced last week aims to return contaminated land to productive use in troubled neighborhoods. LISC has supported the clean-up and re-use of brownfields around the country including the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, a former abandoned hospital site that was redeveloped into a busy educational center for children and the community. “The BUILD ACT, as filed, is a major step in environmental justice for impacted neighborhoods and communities across the country,” says Barbara Burnham, director of federal policy for LISC.

NEW YORK (March 13, 2013) – A bipartisan Senate bill introduced last week should help return contaminated land to productive use and encourage economic recovery in troubled neighborhoods, according the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit working to revitalize low-income communities.

U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Tom Udall (D-NM) joined forces on the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2013, which reauthorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s brownfields program and makes several improvements to how the program functions.

Often located in economically depressed areas, brownfields are abandoned or underused properties where real or perceived environmental contamination creates major barriers to redevelopment. They contribute to blight, may pose environmental and health risks, and discourage commercial growth. Brownfields can be former gas stations, empty warehouses or factories, and othr abandoned industrial and commercial buildings.

“If you’ve ever been to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, you’ve experienced what brownfields redevelopment can do,” said Bill Taft, executive director of LISC Indianapolis. “It’s just one of the many brownfield sites across the country that have been successfully cleaned up and rebuilt. This bill has the potential to change the face of the communities where LISC works for the better. We’re grateful to Senators Lautenberg, Inhofe, Crapo and Udall for their leadership on this important issue.”

Before it was the fun and joyful place it is today, the Children’s Museum was a dark and dusty abandoned lot where the Winona Memorial Hospital once sat and was left to deteriorate. When the Children’s Museum became interested in the site, LISC provided them with $20,000 to have early-stage asbestos and lead-based paint testing done, which helped the Children’s Museum procure an additional $2 million from the HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program to redevelop the property. Now complete and filled with laughter, the Museum is implementing plans involving the development of commercial and residential properties, as well as an interactive educational park for families and the surrounding neighborhood. The Museum hopes that the redevelopment of the abandoned lot will improve safety and decrease crime, attract and retained local business, and beautify the area.

The BUILD Act would make restoration efforts like this easier so that more communities can benefit. It expands nonprofit eligibility for brownfields grants, making the process simpler for smaller towns and cities. It also raises the limit for site remediation grants from $200,000 to $500,000 per site and helps communities respond to their highest priority sites with appropriate site assessment and/or cleanup assistance.

“The BUILD Act, as filed, is a major step in environmental justice for impacted neighborhoods and communities across the country. We are grateful to Senators Lautenberg, Inhofe, Crapo and Udall for their leadership on brownfields,” said Barbara Burnham, vice president for federal policy at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

About LISC
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised $12 billion to build or rehab 289,000 affordable homes and develop 46 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. LISC support has leveraged nearly $40 billion in total development activity. For more information, visit

Barbara Burnham, Vice President, Federal Policy, LISC
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