U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) have announced a huge investment for Baltimore’s Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI).
The Maryland lawmakers joined the Biden-Harris Administration in announcing a $50 million Inflation Reduction Act investment to fund environmental justice projects in communities that have long faced underinvestment and outsized negative impact of climate change.
GHHI was selected to serve as one of 11 regional grantmakers under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program, created by the Inflation Reduction Act. Communities will be able to apply to GHHI for subgrants to fund activities to benefit the environment, like local cleanups, local emergency preparedness and disaster resiliency programs, environmental workforce development programs for local jobs reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fenceline air quality and asthma related projects, healthy homes programs, and projects addressing illegal dumping.
“Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we took historic action to ensure that all communities can participate in the clean energy revolution, lower energy costs, and improve health outcomes. Green & Healthy Homes has already been a vital partner in advancing that work in Baltimore, and with this major investment, we know GHHI will make an even greater impact on our path to progress for environmental justice, energy savings, and economic opportunity,” Van Hollen said in a statement.
“In Maryland, we are working at every level of government to take decisive action to address climate change and protect Black, Brown, Indigenous and other vulnerable communities that are disproportionately burdened by the impacts of climate change. These federal funds will provide targeted resources to communities that are most impacted by climate change but less equipped to adapt to it,” Cardin said in a statement. “The new program acknowledges that smaller, resource-strained community-based organizations have historically faced barriers in accessing federal environmental justice funding. This is a historic investment in community-based projects working towards environmental justice and supports a healthier, more equitable Maryland.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic shined a bright light on many of the structural disparities we face in America. The Biden-Harris Administration and Maryland Congressional Delegation acknowledged these disparities and committed to addressing them as we led the country through the pandemic with congressional action. The $50 million environmental justice grant announced today is an example of our work to make every American community healthier and better,” Mfume said in a statement. “I’ve worked with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and its predecessor for decades, so I know this money will be used fairly to help our neighbors with the most need,” he added.
“For years, community advocates have been calling for federal support and resources to help address our country’s most pressing environmental justice concerns,” said Michael S. Regan, EPA Administrator, in a statement. “Thanks to President Biden and Vice President Harris’ leadership, we’re responding to these calls by removing barriers that have traditionally held communities and applicants back from accessing these historic investments in America. Together, in partnership with these Grantmakers, we are taking a giant step toward a future where every person in America has equal opportunity to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live a healthy, productive life.”
Grantmakers are expected to open competitions and award subgrants by summer 2024. They will offer three tiers of subgrants: Tier One includes grants of $150,000 for assessment, Tier Two includes grants of $250,000 for planning, and Tier Three consists of grants of $350,000 for project development. The tiers are concurrent, and each grantmaker will design and implement a distribution program they deem best for their region and communities.