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EPA awards $100,000 environmental justice grant to Cleveland Tenants Organization


The Cleveland Tenants Organization is one of 10 community-based, non-profit organizations across the country that was recently awarded a $100,000 environmental justice grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The grant was awarded at a ceremony in Washington D.C. and is part of EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program that supports environment and public health improvements in low-income communities around the nation.

Cleveland Tenants Organization -- in conjunction with Environmental Health Watch, an environmental advocacy organization -- plans to reduce exposure to indoor air hazards in low-income, multi-family rental housing. It hopes to accomplish that goal by conducting educational outreach, performing building inspections, organizing tenants to affect local policy decisions and providing resources such as home visits in Greater Cleveland.

“These grants provide resources for communities to take an active role in solving environmental problems,” said EPA Region 5 Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade. “Cleveland Tenants Organization is one of the groups across the country that is seizing the opportunity to clean up its own backyard.”

According to Cleveland Tenants Organization Executive Director Michael J. Piepsny, “Greater Cleveland’s housing landscape embodies the affordable housing crisis facing our country.” There are currently 230,000 rental properties in the Cleveland area, 89 percent of which were built prior to1979, before laws regulating hazards like lead in paint.

“Deplorable conditions -- disrepair due to aging housing stock, poor management or owner neglect and disregard for building and health codes -- place low-income people at risk for lead poisoning, asthma and other health problems,” said Piepsny. “We look forward to working with Environmental Health Watch and EPA to assure that this sensitive population’s homes are healthy and safe.”

In 2007, EPA awarded $1 million in grants across the country for improving the environment in low income communities. Financial assistance under the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program is available to all non-profit organizations designated by the IRS or recognized by the state, territory, commonwealth or tribe in which it is located.

The purpose of the funding is to assist affected communities so they can develop new approaches to environmental justice issues and to achieve community health and sustainability. Since 1994, EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program has provided more than $31 million in funding to more than 1,100 community-based organizations.

For photos and more information, visit the Office of Environmental Justice’s Web site at:


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